Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Paul Merson says Ozan Kabak lacks the mentality to play for Liverpool

Paul Merson has claimed Ozan Kabak’s agent deserves a knighthood as he questioned the defender’s move to Liverpool.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez both out for long term, Jurgen Klopp has moved to improve his defensive ranks with a deadline day loan deal for the Schalke player.

A £2m loan move has now been completed, with a view to making it a permanent one in the summer for a fee in the region of £16m. Liverpool have also signed Preston centre back Ben Davies.

However, former Arsenal player Paul Merson believes Kabak should consider himself fortunate to have secured such a big move away from Schalke, who are currently bottom of the Bundesliga with just once win this campaign.

‘He honestly cannot believe his luck,’ Merson told SkySports. ‘I mean if you’re his agent, you’d look to be knighted.

‘You’ve just gone to the champions, and you’ve won one game all season. I’m shocked, it’s really shocked me.

‘At Schalke they’re expecting to lose every week. Here he comes into Liverpool and they’ve got to win football matches.

‘If Liverpool had have drawn with West Ham, you’d have said that wasn’t very good, because it’s Liverpool. If Schalke go and draw somewhere, it’s party time. That different mentality has to get into him as quickly as possible.

‘I just think it’s about bodies. If Jordan Henderson got injured and one of the young lads got injured, you’ve got nobody there and you can’t be left with nobody. ‘These aren’t £80m centre halves, they probably won’t play, but they’re there just in case.’

And although Merson has reservations about Kabak, he believes the central defender will benefit by playing alongside better players, particularly when van Dijk returns from injury.

He said: ‘When I heard he’s very physical, that worried me. Those days are long gone as a centre half when you came steaming through the back of a forward, you don’t get that any more.

‘He might have to change his game there, but he’s a young kid. He’s going to be working with the best in the world in van Dijk and he’s going to have the best goalkeeper in the world behind him.

‘I’m not being horrible here, but anybody can play alongside van Dijk – he’s a Rolls-Royce. If you’re playing next to him, you don’t need to be the most experienced player in the world. The lad might turn out to a be a great signing.’

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