Ozan Kabak of FC Schalke 04 reacts during the 1. Bundesliga match between VfL Wolfsburg and FC Schalke 04 at the Volkswagen Arena on December 18, 2019 in Wolfsburg, Germany. (Photo by Peter Niedung/NurPhoto)

Liverpool identify Dejan Lovren replacement and ‘register interest’ with Bundesliga club

Liverpool have been linked with another centre-back who could be a potential replacement for the outgoing Dejan Lovren: Schalke’s Ozan Kabak.

Lovren will bring an end to his Anfield career this summer, with Russian outfit Zenit reportedly paying up to €11 million for him.

As a result, the Reds are certain to want another centre-back of their own, with Jurgen Klopp having repeatedly made reference to needing a quartet to choose from.

With Ki-Jana Hoever still extremely young, the only in-squad alternatives would be to use Fabinho in the back line or integrate Nat Phillips, who has been on loan in the second tier of Germany this summer—or else delve into the market.

Rumours have been ridiculous already this summer, from £100m “offers” for Kalidou Koulibaly to old target Aissa Mandi and a dead-end story trail on Edmond Tapsoba.

Now there’s rather more credible interest in another Bundesliga defender, with Kabak currently at Schalke who have a real need to sell this summer.

Bild say a “mega transfer” is “on the way” – and given the links between Jurgen Klopp and S04 boss David Wagner, there’s an easy assumption to suggest we could jump to the head of the queue.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 4, 2019: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Everton FC, the 234th Merseyside Derby, at Anfield. Liverpool won 5-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Lovren likely to head to Zenit for €11m
  • German media outlet Bild cite Reds as keen on Kabak
  • Guardian reporter says Liverpool are one of several clubs interested, no bid yet
  • Rated at €35-40m but Schalke are in financial difficulties
  • 20-year-old Turkish international has been in Germany for 18 months

Schalke are traditionally one of the Bundesliga’s big sides, but they have been hard-hit by financial uncertainty this year and previous spending bringing a poor return on the pitch – and last month announced a club-wide restructuring to reduce spending.

Part of that means they will sell players to recoup funds, and have lowered their level of expectations accordingly, telling fans Europe will no longer be a target.

Whether that means they accept a reduction in payments for players remains to be seen, but when it comes to Kabak, Liverpool and other interested parties have an extra card to play.

They signed him from Stuttgart one year ago for €15m and, in his contract, Kabak has a clause allowing him to leave for €45m as of next summer – and it is expected to drop further after that time. His deal runs until 2024.

As such, it might be expected that Schalke are prepared to almost double their money on a player in a year, reducing the cost for buying teams but still giving them an injection of funds.

That may depend on if they sell other players first: Weston McKennie, Suat Serdar and Amine Harit will all be in demand elsewhere if Schalke give the indication they will sell.

Kabak has one cap at senior level and came through the ranks at Galatasaray. He has around 5,000 senior minutes of action to his name between his three clubs over the last two seasons.