Ozan Kabak is Liverpool’s new signing. He comes at a time when the club is pressed for defensive talent after getting hit with a massive surge in injuries. Here are the stats, tactics, and abilities that make Kabak an ideal addition to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Ozan Kabak’s transfer to Liverpool makes perfect sense. Schalke 04 has agreed to a loan deal which could, very realistically, turn into a full-time transfer.
The German side has been in deplorable form of late. They find themselves bottom of the Bundesliga. Kabak, however, has been the club’s more prominent player, scouted by numerous clubs across Europe.
Liverpool, quite famously, is without Virgil van Dijk for the rest of the season. What’s worse, his replacements have also been sidelined through injuries. Some like Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been able to shake these off. Others, like Joe Gomez will witness the rest of the campaign from a medical rehabilitation center.
Ozan Kabak is a classic central defender. He operates, almost, solely, in the middle of the defense, usually partnered with another player. At Schalke 04, he usually plays with the more agile and technically gifted Matija Nastasic.
It should be noted though that Die Knappen is not just bottom of the league, they also have the worse defensive standing at present. With that being said, Kabak, who is only 20-years-old, has been lauded for his striking potential.
Is Ozan Kabak the next Van Dijk? Judging by his profile, the answer is no. Sorry Liverpool fans!
He can, however, develop into an excellent partner for the Dutchman next season. Kabak is a classic hardman defender. The Turkish defender is terrific in terms of tackling. He also knows how to read the game, making him a great addition to Liverpool’s very tactically minded approach.
The biggest difference between Kabak and Van Dijk is their ability to play the ball from the back. Kabak has excellent mental and tactical attributes, but, so far, has not assisted very often in terms of build up, or attacking intent.
It’s important that we remember that Kabak is only 20-years-old. Playing for Liverpool will be the biggest challenge of his career. Signing a player of his age and talent, normally, involves a premium price tag. Perhaps, this is the reason why Liverpool has opted to make a decision come to the end of the season.
Kabak’s abilities have been growing every year. Still, his stats, also, express Schalke 04’s form. This season he played 14 Bundesliga games for the Germans. He averaged 1.2 tackles per game and 3.9 clearances.
By contrast, Union Berlin’s 26-year-old defender, Christopher Lenz, has made 2.9 tackles, but only 1.8 clearances. However, Union has not been on the receiving end of endless attacks from the opposition. Mainz’s Alexander Hack has made 5.3 clearances per game this season. Like Schalke, Mainz is facing a tough relegation battle.
Kabak will be asked to pass the ball often and well as a Liverpool player. For Schalke he averages a 83.5% success rate in terms of passing. This is significantly higher than the team’s average of 77%. It’s also significant since Schalke has rarely held the upper hand in terms of possession.
There are other defenders with better stats in the Bundesliga this season. However, few possess the age requirements and potential of Kabak. Furthermore, the fact that both Liverpool and Schalke are struggling in various respects, has also helped the deal.
Will he be enough to see Liverpool to another Premier League title? He could well be. Kabak is a great player that deserves this kind of opportunity for certain.