With only a few hours remaining in the transfer window, Liverpool further reinforced their decimated backline Monday with the signing of 20-year-old center-back Ozan Kabak from German strugglers Schalke.
Kabak joins Liverpool on loan until the end of the season.
Liverpool can make the deal permanent in the summer for an additional £18 million plus add-ons, The Athletic’s James Pearce and David Ornstein report.
Earlier in the day, Jurgen Klopp’s side signed 25-year-old defender Ben Davies from Championship outfit Preston North End. Davies and Kabak – who had been linked with a move to Anfield for several months – arrive as low-risk, cost-effective solutions to Liverpool’s long-standing defensive issues.
The Turkish international has been one of Schalke’s only adequate performers in a disastrous season that’s seen them slide to last in the Bundesliga.
Former Schalke coach David Wagner, who’s a close friend of Klopp, personally recommended Kabak to the Liverpool manager, according to The Guardian’s Andy Hunter.
Standing 6-foot-1, Kabak is strong in the air and a physical presence, but he’s also keen to dribble into space. He previously played for Galatasaray and Stuttgart.
Kabak and Davies will now offer Klopp immediate assistance in a position of desperate need. Joel Matip is expected to miss significant time with ankle ligament damage, and both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are out long term with serious knee injuries. Midfielder Fabinho, who’s deputized in defense alongside club captain Jordan Henderson, also struggled recently with a minor muscle issue.
Klopp was initially doubtful about Liverpool’s chances of signing a new center-back. On Jan. 7, he told reporters that any transfer activity was “unlikely” due to the current economic climate. But the injury to Matip, which occurred in last week’s win over Tottenham Hotspur, forced the club to take action.