Liverpool left it late on transfer deadline day, but Jurgen Klopp signed two center backs to bolster their defense.
[ MORE: All of the January transfer deals ]
That sound you can hear is Klopp shrieking with delight, as he has dealt with Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all being out injured this season, while makeshift center back Fabinho has also recently gone down with an injury too.
For transfer deadline day on Feb. 1, you can watch Sky Sports News free on Peacock from 8 a.m. ET, plus we will have a special transfer Deadline Day show on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com from 4-6:30 p.m. ET.
Let’s focus on the two center backs that Liverpool have signed.
Ben Davies to Liverpool
Ben Davies has joined from second-tier Preston North End for a fee which could rise to $2.1 million. As part of the deal, young Liverpool center back Sepp van den Berg will also head to Preston on loan for the rest of the season.
Davies, 25, is widely-regarded as the best center back in the Championship and he has just six months left on his current contract at Preston. He was free to talk to clubs outside of England this month about signing a pre-contract agreement and it was believed he would sign for Celtic, with Bournemouth also interested.
“It’s a huge opportunity. Obviously it came as a bit of a surprise when it first came but once you start to get your head around it, the opportunity that is in front of me is incredible. I’d be silly to not make the most of it and learn off the players [at the club],” Davies said. “I’m looking forward to coming in and playing in front of everyone and showing everyone what I can do. I’m sure a lot of fans and people don’t know [me], or haven’t even seen me play. It’s definitely an exciting time and I think they’ll quite enjoy watching me when I’m playing well.”
However, Liverpool have made their move and the English center back should suit their style of play extremely well and is left-footed so gives them a nice balanced option they haven’t had since Dejan Lovren left last summer.
Not only is Davies an aggressive center back who likes to step out of the back line to make tackles and blocks, he also reads the game well and has an impressive array of long passes.
Davies is likely to be an upgrade on Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams, Liverpool’s remaining center back options, and he is able to slot right into the team. Given the issues with finances, even for a club like Liverpool, this is a very good piece of business and fills their need.
Deal for Ozan Kabak to Liverpool also complete
UPDATE: Liverpool have confirmed their capture of 20-year-old Turkish international Ozan Kabak. The deal will be a loan initially ($2 million fee) with the Reds holding a $25-million option to make the transfer permanent.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 1, 2021
Our partners at Sky Sports in Germany broke the news that Kabak had agreed to join Liverpool on loan, while Schalke have agreed to the terms with an option to buy clause for $25 million this summer also agreed.
Our partners in Germany also state that Klopp’s good friend, David Wagner, advised Liverpool to sign the center back. Wagner coached Kabak at Schalke.
Schalke have lined up Shkodran Mustafi to replace Kabak, as the Arsenal center back has signed a six-month deal as he’s out of contract at the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Kabak has been linked with a move to Liverpool in the past and the Turkey international has plenty of promise but has seen his confidence shattered as Schalke sit bottom of the Bundesliga table as they’re in a dire financial situation.
With Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk to come back from injuries in the late spring/early summer, these moves for Davies and Kobak suggest that Joel Matip and Nat Phillips should probably look elsewhere for a club, while Rhys Williams and Sepp van den Berg are still some way off becoming regulars.
Klopp will now have both Davies and Kabak available to play right away, and Liverpool will still believe they’re in the title race after suffering a massive mid-season wobble due to their defensive injuries impacting the entire balance of the team. They now have defensive cover, and that is key.