Ozan Kabak has explained how “small tips” from Virgil van Dijk have helped him settle at Liverpool, with the Dutchman having taught him the “football mentality” required.
Upon making the loan switch from Schalke, Kabak expressed his desire to play alongside Van Dijk.
That is yet to happen, and it is still unclear whether it will, as Liverpool are yet to make his stay permanent and their No. 4 remains sidelined after knee surgery.
But the pair have been talking at Kirkby and when Van Dijk joins the first team at Anfield for matchdays, with his advice proving invaluable.
In an interview with the club’s official website, Kabak has detailed the wisdom imparted on him by a world-leading centre-back as he looks to prove himself on Merseyside.
“He gave me small tips about our football mentality,” the 21-year-old said.
“I think defenders understand each other better and he came with some small tips about how we play or what I need to do. It helps [my] game.”
This is particularly important as Kabak has been filling in as the left-sided centre-back, operating with the same “see it before it happens” approach to defending as his role model.
“As a defender, I think you need to smell the danger and you need to see it before it happens,” he continued.
“I don’t know how it’s called in English but you need to guess where’s the danger and you need to go there and cover. You need to be intelligent.
“That’s exactly what I’m trying to do but it’s about experience, too, I think.
“Our friend Virgil, for example, is so good at this job. He does it very well because he’s a really experienced guy and he knows this football.
“So I tried to do my best and game by game I think I got better on this.”
Despite continued links with RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konate, Kabak resembles a no-brainer signing for Liverpool in the upcoming transfer window, given he is available for just £18 million.
It has been mooted that the Reds would even look to negotiate a lower fee with Schalke when his loan expires, which could be feasible as the Bundesliga club have now seen their relegation confirmed.
If Michael Edwards is able to pull the deal off for even lower, it would be a masterstroke, especially as Kabak has impressed in his 13 appearances so far and would not require a bedding-in period, as Konate will.
With Van Dijk then due back in time for pre-season, Kabak could be given the opportunity to put this advice to practice as his partner.