Liverpool are claimed to have made “no decision” over whether to sign Ozan Kabak on a permanent deal this summer, with the centre-back tasked to play for his future.
Kabak’s list of admirers is growing due to his improving performances on loan at Liverpool, with supporters initially reserved but now firmly behind the young Turk.
He is forming an impressive partnership with Nat Phillips, and despite the Englishman’s raw qualities earning plaudits, it is Kabak who is showcasing a more refined, all-round game.
That should appeal to Jurgen Klopp, as well as the club’s recruitment staff, with Michael Edwards negotiating an £18 million purchase option in the initial loan deal struck with Schalke in February.
But though this is increasingly resembling a bargain fee, Liverpool have made “no decision” over whether to make him a permanent member of the first-team squad.
That is according to The Athletic‘s James Pearce, who lays out the situation as particularly favourable to the Reds, as Kabak is required to prove himself in every game this season.
“Senior sources at Liverpool have indicated that no decision had been taken yet over whether to retain his services beyond the end of May,” Pearce writes.
“With Klopp currently heavily reliant on Kabak, Liverpool need the defender highly motivated every time he pulls on the shirt, and playing for your future certainly focuses the mind.”
Interestingly, though, Pearce claims that “only one major defensive signing is anticipated,” which could well be RB Leipzig 21-year-old Ibrahima Konate, who is expected to join in a deal worth £35.4 million.
But whether Kabak, also 21, is considered ‘major’, given he is already on the books, is unclear, and it can certainly be argued that both he and Konate are required next season.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all set to return in time for pre-season, but there are no guarantees over their fitness – and particularly Gomez and Matip, who have struggled with repeated issues.
Heading into the new campaign with five or six senior centre-backs would be a strong response to this season’s disastrous band of three, especially with there being hope for an assault on four competitions again.
Much could depend on Klopp’s opinion on Phillips as a long-term option and, crucially, whether Liverpool qualify for the Champions League or even the Europa League, as they currently sit five points off the top four.
Overall, the deal to sign Kabak on loan should be considered another masterstroke from Edwards, allowing the club to sit back and consider their options without the need to make a big-money gamble in the winter.