Transfer Talk: Why the sly Foxes are so keen to call a Kab
Just weeks after leaving Liverpool, Ozan Kabak could be returning to the Premier League.
The Turkey international spent the latter half of last season on loan at Anfield but the Reds opted against turning it into a permanent move and instead signed Ibrahima Konate.
But the 21-year-old defender has now been linked with a move to Leicester, who are looking to bolster their defensive options following Wes Morgan’s retirement.
As Brendan Rodgers' men prepare to host Europa League winners Villarreal tonight, we turn the spotlight on what the Schalke centre-back would bring to the King Power Stadium.
Michael Reschke, the man responsible for taking Kabak to Germany when he was Stugggart's sporting director, paints a superb picture of the former Galatasaray youngster.
He said: "You’ll never see him drop off unless he absolutely has to. We didn’t have a good second half of the season in 2018-19 and were relegated but that had little to do with Ozan, he was outstanding.
"He was voted Bundesliga Rookie of the Season for his solid performances. His mentality and commitment were fantastic.
"He played with a broken toe and, in the relegation play-off against Union, with a broken nose, still heading balls. He’s like that."
Kabak might not always appear to be the prettiest but his ability with the ball at his feet meets what is expected of a modern centre-back.
When compared against defenders in Europe’s top five leagues over the past year, he ranked in the 76th percentile for pass completion (89.3%) and was in the 99th percentile for dribbles completed.
Those two particular metrics highlight the fact he is proficient with the ball but also progressive.
Kabak has the ability to beat a man and create space for a team-mate before finding them with a pass — an invaluable trait in a team managed by Rodgers.
The 12-cap international is not the tallest defender around, standing at 6ft 1in, but he is deceptively efficient in the air.
That is reflected in his aerial duels record. Compared with his fellow centre-backs across Europe, he won 3.54 headers per 90 minutes over the last year to place in the 86th percentile.
To excel in the Premier League, defenders have to be proficient in the air as well as in possession. Kabak ticks both boxes.
Potential long-term partnership
Caglar Soyuncu has cemented himself as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League with his performances for Leicester since Harry Maguire departed for Manchester United.
He is also one of the star performers for a very young Turkey side.
Merih Demiral played alongside him at the European Championship but there is every chance Kabak could be the man to do so in the future.
That could well be a partnership for the next decade, both at club and international level.
The duo are similar in terms of profile and will only improve the more they play alongside one another.
Some players reach a certain level and are content with what they have achieved.
But Kabak wants to be the best. Speaking when he joined Schalke in 2019, the centre-back revealed his aspirations.
He said: "My personal aim is to become a top defender in maybe two or three years, like Virgil van Dijk. He's my idol, I really like him."
That sort of attitude will take him places.
Getting him in at an age where he is still mouldable is only going to be a positive for both Leicester and the player himself.