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Ozan Kabak beginning to settle at Liverpool

At the heart of the defensive improvement is loan signing Ozan Kabak, who has begun to find his feet for Liverpool and looks to be worth every penny of the £20 million that the club could spend to bring him in permanently this summer.

Ankit Kanaujia
Last updated: 31.03.2021
Ozan Kabak beginning to settle at Liverpool | Sports Social Blog

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It’s been a tumultuous couple of months for supporters of Liverpool, so you can forgive them for enjoying this little moment of calm. Two successive victories, in the Champions League against RB Leipzig, and in the Premier League against Wolverhampton Wanderers, have given Jürgen Klopp’s men the chance to puff out their cheeks and wipe their sweaty brows after a nightmarish run since the festive period.

What is even sweeter about Liverpool’s two recent victories is that both came accompanied by clean sheets, which is a real boon for the team given their injury struggles at the back. At the heart of this defensive improvement is loan signing Ozan Kabak, who has begun to find his feet for Liverpool and looks to be worth every penny of the £20 million that the club could spend to bring him in permanently this summer.

Kabak endured a shaky start to life at the club. Thrust in amid an unprecedented injury crisis, Kabak was not afforded the time to bed himself in and settle slowly. Instead, the blood and thunder of the Premier League came thick and fast, and some early mistakes gave an indication that perhaps the Turkish international would not live up to the strong reputation he brought with him from the German Bundesliga.

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But in recent matches, it’s become clear that Kabak has the potential to be a calm and silky centre-half, and he has begun to feel more at home in his new surroundings. An unlikely partnership between himself and Nathaniel Phillips has seen Liverpool flourish defensively, along with the relieving presence of Fabinho in front of them, tidying things up in his familiar defensive midfield role.

Phillips and Kabak are somewhat different in terms of their playing styles. The former is very much in the traditional mould of a centre-back – a forehead on legs, programmed to head clear every ball that threatens Liverpool’s penalty area. For a quick fix, Phillips is more than effective, but alongside him Kabak brings a much more luxurious quality. If Phillips is the Scania truck in Liverpool’s back four, then Kabak is the Rolls-Royce.

The 20-year-old is one of those modern centre-halves who seem to glide rather than run, and halt attackers with an almost effortless grace. Through his ability to read the game intelligently, which belies his young age, Kabak has been able to provide Liverpool with a little bit of relief as far as their defensive crisis goes. The defensive solidity shown in the last two games will restore confidence in those analysing the football odds from Betfair.

One moment which demonstrated the defender’s value to Liverpool came when the Reds were 1-0 up against Wolves with less than a quarter of the game to go. A flick from the hosts’ Fábio Silva set Morgan Gibbs-White streaking clear on goal, but Kabak made up the ground before flicking the ball away from Gibbs-White as the striker bore down on Alisson’s penalty area. It was the kind of defensive intervention that downplayed the danger posed, but Klopp and his coaching staff will be well aware of what a crucial tackle it was.

After a rough season as far as injuries are concerned, and having fielded what seems like a thousand different centre-back partnerships, Klopp seems to have finally found a winning formula in the shape of Kabak and Phillips, with Fabinho anchoring the midfield in his inimitable awkward style. While hopes of finishing in the top four remain distant, there is plenty to play for in the Champions League, and Kabak could prove to be one of the stars in what could, against the odds, turn out to be another memorable season for Liverpool.

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