He is considered to be one of the greatest defensive talents in Europe. But wherever Ozan Kabak plays, the team is in crisis. A highly unfortunate coincidence or is there more to it?
For a long time in January it did not look like Liverpool would be active on the Transfermark and bring reinforcements for the defense. Although the central defenders with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are injured one, two and three for a long time. On Deadline Day, the last possible day for transfers on February 1st, the “Reds” struck.
Ozan Kabak came from Schalke 04 on loan until the end of the season for a fee of 1.3 million euros. In addition, Liverpool has negotiated a purchase option with which the Turkish defender can be signed for a little more than 20 million euros in the summer.
A lot was promised from the highly acclaimed top talent. Although things didn’t go at all for Kabak at Schalke in the first half of the season. With 44 goals conceded from 17 games, Königsblau and defense chief Kabak were by far the weakest defense in the first half of the Bundesliga.
To label Kabak as the scapegoat for Schalke’s crisis would of course be completely presumptuous. Even if the 20-year-old wrote negative headlines not only with his spit attack in September in the game against Bremen and was therefore banned from four games.
Kabak, the bad luck charm
Nonetheless, Ozan Kabak was Jürgen Klopp’s wish transfer. Also because his best man David Wagner – Schalke coach between July 2019 and September 2020 – was able to convince him of the defender’s talent. “Yes, Dave was very, very convinced of him. He said Ozan will one day be a captain, ”revealed the Liverpool coach after Kabak’s arrival. “He’s really a huge talent.”
The hymns of praise for the young Turks were and remain great. Ever since his professional debut at Galatasaray Istanbul in the summer of 2018 at the age of 18. Kabak made 18 games (6 wins, 6 draws, 6 defeats) for the traditional Turkish club before moving to VfB Stuttgart, which was threatened with relegation in January 2019.
The boy is so serene for his age. I’m amazed at how mature he is, ”said CEO Thomas Hitzlsperger a few weeks after Kabak signed on. But even the new hope could no longer save Stuttgart from relegation. Kabak’s record at VfB: 17 games, 3 wins, 6 draws, 8 defeats.
The move to Schalke followed. A club that sees itself in the Champions League, but has lagged behind its own claims for years and ended last season – the first with Kabak – in a disappointing 12th place. Now the descent hardly seems to be averted. Schalke are already nine points behind the rescue bank – and Kabak has made off the dust. After 10 wins, 12 draws and 20 defeats from 42 games for Schalke.
“Nightmare” start in the Premier League
“Now it was the perfect time for him to switch. Every player needs a stable team around them and that is what we can offer them, »said Klopp three weeks ago. Today the situation is completely different: Liverpool have lost all four games in the league since Kabak’s arrival, defending their title is now 19 points behind leader Manchester City.
The “Reds” have to tremble for the Champions League, are currently only sixth, five points behind the top 4.
Kabak has been used three times so far. On his debut (1: 3 defeat at Leicester) he made a serious mistake after coordination problems with keeper Alisson. In the 2-0 derby defeat against Everton last weekend, the Turkish international lost the running duel with goalscorer Richarlison before the 0-1.
The local newspaper “Liverpool Echo” gave Kabak’s performance the worst rating of all players and wrote of a “nightmare” for the newcomer.
So far, Kabak has not been able to give the Liverpool defense, which is plagued by injuries, the hoped-for stability. Even in the 2-0 win in the first leg of the Champions League first leg against RB Leipzig, he is not without uncertainties, but still got a lot of praise from Coach Klopp (“he played a great game”), who also protects Kabak : «Ozan has huge potential. He didn’t take the easiest career path. ” Kabak himself said after the Leipzig game: “I still need a little time to adjust. I think I’ll get even better. ”
At the end of the day, it is not only surprising that Ozan Kabak seems to be attracted to all of his clubs, but that despite the misery of his previous clubs, he has always held a regular position as a highly praised super talent and climbed the career ladder. In order to be able to stay with a top Premier League team in the long term after his loan change – and not have to go to the 2nd Bundesliga – Kabak will have to improve significantly. Or hope for more hymns of praise.