Ozan Kabak may have just lost his chance at a Liverpool future. Reports claim the Reds are heading in a different direction.
Ozan Kabak arrived at Liverpool with an uncertain future. Few players have that – they’re usually on long-term contracts after big-money moves.
The defender arrived on loan from Schalke 04, with no guarantee of a permanent deal. Liverpool paid around £1m upfront and then had an option to make it a long-term transfer for £18m.
That happening needed several things to happen, however. Firstly, Kabak had to play well. We think he’s done that.
Secondly, Liverpool needed to believe he could kick on further while learning their style. Again, we think that is the case.
Kabak maybe isn’t perfect for the high-line, play-out-from-the-back style but he looks more and more comfortable in it. And at just 21, there’s reason to believe he’ll ace it eventually.
But the third thing was always the most difficult as it was completely out of Kabak’s hands. Liverpool needed to believe there was no better option.
He wasn’t necessarily their first-choice, after all. The Reds signed him as a last-minute deal at the winter transfer deadline. It wasn’t as though they’d chased him for months.
Kabak could have played to the absolute best of his abilities and look fantastic. But if Liverpool found someone they liked better, securing a permanent move was always going to be tough.
And it appears that’s exactly what happened.
Fabrizio Romano claims that Liverpool are about to pay the release clause for Ibrahima Konate. He’d arrive on a five-year deal and almost certainly leave no room for Kabak.
Ozan Kabak and his Liverpool future
We don’t believe Liverpool would sign two major centre-backs. It would leave them with five senior players, meaning one player would have a very limited role.
There just aren’t enough games for five players to all get regular games. And if one is going to have a limited role, it makes far more sense to have Nat Phillips do it as he wouldn’t cost anything.
So if Liverpool truly are signing Konate this week, it leaves Kabak in an awkward position. His team are effectively telling him that he’s not quite good enough, while also counting on him to help secure a top-four finish.
The upside here is that Kabak will still want to impress other teams and secure a move away from Schalke. They’ve just suffered relegation, after all, and he won’t want to go back there.
But if Liverpool aren’t exercising their £18m option, there’s a real risk that Kabak is at a 2. Bundesliga team next season. That’s quite a drop from starting two Champions League quarter-finals against Real Madrid.
We still need more on the potential Konate signing but it sounds as though Kabak won’t be joining permanently this summer. And that will make him very interesting to watch over the next month.