Liverpool are close to completing a loan deal for Schalke’s Turkey central defender Ozan Kabak.
The 20-year-old will join Liverpool until the end of the season in addition to the deal which brings Preston North End’s Ben Davies to Anfield for £2m.
Marseille’s Duje Caleta-Car is also a potential target with the Reds exploring a number of options in defence because of injuries.
Kabak was recommended by former Huddersfield Town manager David Wagner.
Wagner coached him at Bundesliga side Schalke and worked with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp at Borussia Dortmund.
Liverpool have an option – not an obligation – to buy Kabak at the end of the season and will pay a £1m loan fee now with a potential for a £500,000 bonus based on games played, and how they fare in the Champions League.
The option for a permanent deal is priced at £18m plus add-ons and does not need to be activated until June.
Klopp named his 12th different centre-half partnership in 21 league games for Sunday’s 3-1 win at West Ham, with Jordan Henderson alongside Nathaniel Phillips.
Centre-backs Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all out injured.
Liverpool close on ‘astonishing’ Kablak
Before joining Schalke, Kablak played for Stuttgart and won the Bundesliga’s Rookie of the Year award for the 2018-19 season despite the club being relegated from the German top flight.
Stuttgart’s sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger, the former Ashton Villa midfielder, said it was “incredible how worldy-wise he is for his age”.
“It’s astonishing,” Hitzlsperger added. “I see him every day and am amazed at how he mature he is.”
Kabak, whose idol is Van Dijk, has played 14 times for Schalke this season, although the club are bottom of the table with the worst defensive record in the league.
Liverpool were linked with the Turkey international last summer after the departure of Dejan Lovren.
The move could rely on Schalke finding a replacement. Schalke have been strongly linked with Arsenal’s Shkodran Mustafi, who has also figured in Liverpool’s discussions.
Preston’s Davies also expected to join Reds
The capture of Davies, 25, is also expected to be completed following a medical on Monday.
The left-sided defender, who Celtic were convinced they had secured on a pre-contract agreement, came through Preston’s youth system and has had spells on loan with York, Southport and Newport.
Burnley were also interested but it is understood Preston were not keen to sell to a local rival.
Bournemouth were considering a bid as part of a double deal also including Ben Pearson, while Sheffield United were also in the mix – but Davies jumped at the chance to move to the Premier League champions.
The Reds will pay £500,000 up front with add-ons worth up to £1.1m relating to first-team appearances and any other achievements he contributes to, as well as any England honours he may win.
It is also believed there is a sell-on clause for Preston if Liverpool make any profit on a future deal for Davies.
Liverpool’s 19-year-old Dutch defender Sepp van den Berg is expected to join Preston on loan as part of the deal.
Who is Ben Davies? ‘A real steady Eddie’
Former Preston and Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson
Ben Davies has done well at Preston and has let his contract run down so he was going to move on in the summer. I didn’t really see him as being good enough to be on Liverpool’s radar.
He’s a real steady Eddie. He’s left-footed and quick enough but he’s not got phenomenal pace or anything like that.
He’s been good in the Championship, very good.
But I’ve watched him and thought, up against the extra nous and quality you get in the Premier League, on top of extra pace, it will be a test for him. You wouldn’t want to just throw him in to face Manchester City next Sunday, put it that way.
This is obviously a great move for him, I just can’t see him getting near the first team. Phillips has done well when he’s come in and he is probably a better player.
So, Davies would be behind him and also Rhys Williams, so even before Joel Matip comes back and the other two long-term injured players – Van Dijk and Gomez – he is going to be below them on the list. And Fabinho and Jordan Henderson too.
I am not sure he will play very much, but the experience alone should be fabulous. I hope he experiences playing in the first team, but even if he is just sitting on the bench then it is still great for him.