Jurgen Klopp questioned the reason for criticism levelled at Ozan Kabak despite knowing his swift introduction into Liverpool’s side has left little time to acclimatise.
The 20-year-old arrived at Anfield on deadline day and while he was not given the nod in his first week at the club, a spot has since been claimed as his own as part of a new-look defensive core.
Kabak has six appearances to his name and while he is looking more at home with each passing game, he has found himself in the firing line at times.
He has been guilty of a mistake or two but it’s hardly been a smooth transition from a relegation-threatened Schalke to a Liverpool side low on confidence and hit by injury.
In six matches he has formed part of three different centre-back pairings, two of which were with midfielders.
And with an £18 million permanent deal able to be triggered in the summer, Klopp was posed the question of if Kabak’s true quality can only be determined when playing alongside the likes of Virgil van Dijk.
“I didn’t see it as a problem yet, to be honest,” Klopp told reporters as he spoke of his bemusement at the scrutiny placed on Kabak’s young shoulders.
“I heard, I didn’t read it, that there was some criticism when Ozan came and started playing.
“This is the world we’re living in. You bring in a 20-year-old boy and everyone wants him to sort all of our problems in one second and you don’t give him time at all.
“We didn’t see it that way and we are quite critical with ourselves and with the boys as well.
“Ozan played really good from the first moment. Did he play as good as he can or his best performance ever? Probably not.
“We spoke about Ben [Davies] and how difficult these kinds of things [settling in] are, but Ozan played pretty much immediately. That makes it really tricky.
“He tried to adapt and when you try to adapt in these moments you cannot be yourself naturally because you try to adapt to other people.
“It takes a while until you can do both: adapting to others and being yourself.
“But I’m completely happy with the performances so far and, of course, everybody knew he was 20 years old and an amazing talent. So, I don’t think it’s a problem that we cannot start him next to Virgil or Joel or Joe.”
They’ll be confidence-boosting words for Kabak who has clearly earned the faith of Klopp as he looks to establish a consistent partnership with the Turk and Nat Phillips.