Liverpool could be looking to negotiate a lower fee for Ozan Kabak, rather than paying the £18 million option to buy agreed with Schalke in February, it has been suggested.
Kabak joined the Reds at the end of the winter transfer window and has established himself as a reliable figure at the back, particularly alongside Nat Phillips.
His form has highlighted the loan deal agreed with Schalke as a bargain, with Liverpool able to sign the 20-year-old on a permanent basis for £18 million at the end of the season.
But with a £35.4 million move for RB Leipzig centre-back Ibrahima Konate now expected, there are question marks over whether the Reds will activate their option to buy Kabak.
The Athletic’s David Ornstein, speaking on The Ornstein & Chapman Podcast, has claimed that certain sources believe Liverpool could allow the Turk to return to Schalke at the end of his loan, before negotiating a lower permanent fee with the soon-to-be relegated club.
“I think they need to let Schalke know around mid-May. I don’t know the exact date,” Ornstein said.
“Some people I speak to suggest that he will be sent back, some people I speak to suggest he will be sent back and Liverpool will try to negotiate a lower fee than the option.
“Some people say that won’t work, because another team will come in and pay a higher fee for Kabak, who has impressed – to an extent – at Liverpool.
“Seven games on the trot, 90 minutes each, playing for Turkey, very successful qualifying campaign so far for the World Cup and he’ll be going to the Euros.
“I really don’t know if they’re going to go for Kabak as well, but of course he was not in the grander plan, it was a make-do signing that Liverpool very skilfully got on loan with an option, rather than permanently.”
There are a number of issues for Liverpool to address as they reshape their defence for next season, and ironically it comes with potentially having too many options.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all due back from injury in time for pre-season, but there are no guarantees the trio will recapture their form or fitness immediately, nor that they will even recovery fully.
Phillips, Ben Davies and Rhys Williams are among those already on the books, along with youngsters Billy Koumetio and Sepp van den Berg, and with Konate expected to join, it is unclear whether another option would be required.
Ornstein went on to address the situation – which also rests on Liverpool being in next season’s Champions League – by explaining that it could be a “very different picture” in a few months’ time.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen with the others outside of those premier names,” he continued.
“Such as Phillips, who is still under contract, has done a good job, but we don’t know the intentions.
“Davies hasn’t played for Liverpool so far and we don’t know if he will. Will he be loaned out? Rhys Williams, will he go out on loan?
“So it could be a very different picture by the time next season kicks off, but the idea of being able to get somebody like Konate is something that is surely too good to turn down.”