LIVERPOOL ANALYSIS: WHO ARE THEIR NEW CENTRE-BACKS - DAVIES AND KABAK?
This season has been rough on Liverpool’s centre-backs. Their first choice pairing of Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk are both out with long term injuries and now it has been reported that Joel Matip is ruled out for the rest of the season as well. This has left the reigning Premier League champions defensive state in tatters. So far Liverpool have resorted to playing midfielders as centre-backs, with Jordan Henderson and Fabinho finding their place in the backline.
The Reds have had to be active in the transfer window, making signings that they usually would not have. They have signed Ben Davies from Preston, for a fee of £1.6 million and Ozan Kabak, on loan from Schalke until the end of the season.
The desperation for a centre-back meant that Liverpool had to adapt their transfer policy. In past transfer windows the club have adapted a no compromise, willing to wait approach. This has been seen in a number of their big signings, namely Virgil Van Dijk, Allisson and Naby Keita. They waited an extra season to sign Keita from RB Leipzig and waited to sign Van Dijk, after being accused of ‘tapping him up’ in a previous window. This policy has served them well, they do not get walked over when they want to sign someone. Having to change this policy was not desirable, hence why they chose signings that were not huge money transfers. They did not want their desperation to be heavily prayed upon.
Ben Davies is a fit, left-sided centre-back with 250 appearances under his belt. He plugs a gap that Liverpool desperately needed plugging amongst their injury woes. Davies had received interest from a wide range of clubs, ahead of his Preston contract expiring in the summer. It was known that Celtic had showed interest in signing him in the summer before the Reds swooped in and stole him. Although, it is clear to many that Davies will likely not spend his long-term future at Liverpool, with Gomez and Van Dijk being a formidable pairing when fit that even the highest quality of centre-back would find it hard to squeeze their way into. But he is a quality centre-back that Liverpool need and will likely find it easy to recuperate the measly £1.6 million fee they paid for him.
Ozan Kabak is on loan from Schalke with an option to buy. He is young and promising and shows desire to be the best. As well as playing centre-back, he can also play defensive midfield if the team should ever need cover there, if that area of their squad is also plagued with injuries. However, many have been critical of Kabak before he has even played for the club, as he has conceded an average of about 2.5 goals per league game this season for Schalke. Schalke have been poor so far this season so that may be have been hard for his talents to be suitably showcased. He is known for being a good passer and is a fan of playing a long ball, something Liverpool’s attacking trio will likely latch onto to score goals. The only worry some may have is if it will take him time to adapt to the league and to English football, whereas Davies already has experience in the English game. With Kabak’s loan only being until the end of the season, with an option to buy, it remains unseen if he will be able to reach his full potential in his short spell on Merseyside.