Parker: Klopp must handle Kabak and Davies with care

Paul Parker believes Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has to take care of Deadline Day signings Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies if his side are to mount a renewed challenge for the Premier League.

At United there were two standout winter arrivals in my time at Old Trafford: William Prunier and Andy Cole.

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I played with Prunier in that 4-0 loss at White Hart Lane, but it just wasn’t real. People just don’t believe what happened when we discuss it. Cole’s time with the club showed what’s more likely to happen to Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak, and how Jurgen Klopp can make sure they settle in as quickly as possible.

When Cole came to United, we already had our own way of playing. At Newcastle United, they had theirs. He was used to running in behind, and there were always crosses coming in from the wings for him to attack. The ball was in front of him. But when he came with us he had to change, because we’d have to play the ball into feet and work from that, and from that he was able to give back to the team.

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I think Cole was clear that there were times that he was struggling to fit in. But what happened was that the boss didn’t just give up – there was a long-term plan to get Cole in and get him buzzing in our side. By signing for United it opened him up to improving his game. He was respected more as a player when he was able to show everyone that there were was more to his game – and he was helped by the fact he knew he wasn’t the finished article when he arrived. Kabak and Davies will have to be helped through and will have to embrace a new way of doing things, and be prepared to learn in order to improve. They’re at a big club too now, and they must be open to showing there is more to them.

How well you adjust, I think, depends on the individual. It’s definitely possible to step up from the lower divisions and make a success of it. I came from two divisions down to join QPR. More recently, Dele Alli joined Spurs from League One. I think what’s most important for Davies is that Klopp doesn’t use his move up as an excuse not to play him.

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Klopp needs to be brave enough to put him in straight away – that’s how you learn. You learn when you’re on the job, and he might be raw but it will do him no good to be stuck playing inconsistently in the under-23s. In the first team he’ll have experienced players around him, and he’s used to regular football, so he can’t miss out. That means it’s up to his boss to help him with any personal troubles he might have as he adjusts.

Klopp will also need to be on hand for Kabak. He’s come from another country and you don’t know how many, if any, of his family are going to make the journey with him. He shouldn’t be left out of the team for too long. If players come from abroad without friends and family then it’s best they are allowed to play and feel like they’re part of a team.

The way Liverpool looked against West Ham, I don’t think anyone can write them off. They applied themselves well, and after beating Spurs I think they might have turned a corner. With some of their young players coming through, then they have added some depth, and perhaps some more belief. If Jordan Henderson can come good again they could be a dangerous side for the second half of the season.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool scores their side’s second goal past Lukasz Fabianski of West Ham United during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Liverpool at London Stadium on January 31, 2021 in London, England

Image credit: Getty Images

If you look at the way Liverpool are, with their strengths and weaknesses, they have got more about them than United have. In the transfer window, United needed to add to their front line. They might get away with it defensively this season, but they need more for Bruno Fernandes to play off. Another experienced player alongside Edinson Cavani, someone who would run to open up the pitch rather than wait for a pass, could have made the difference for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Manchester City are the favourites despite Liverpool’s transfer window. They’ve tightened up at the back, they’re physically and mentally more resilient. In the past they’ve crumbled against Liverpool, and I don’t think that will happen again – but we’ll find out soon.

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Jurgen Klopp: ‘Really strange’ situation led to Liverpool signing Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday the January deadline day signings of Ozan Kabak from Schalke and Ben Davies from Preston North End were a result of a “really strange” situation, with the club in the midst of a defensive crisis and mounting injury list. It came as he confirmed Virgil van Dijk is unlikely to return this season.

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Klopp: Van Dijk unlikely to play again this season

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp says it is unlikely Virgil Van Dijk will play again this season ahead of the Merseyside club’s clash with Brighton on Wednesday.

The Dutch defender ruptured knee ligaments in the Merseyside derby in October following a challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, and underwent surgery that the club said was successful.

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Klopp admitted afterwards that Van Dijk’s knee did not look good.

Liverpool have been short in central defence due to Van Dijk and Joe Gomez’s long-term injuries. The club signed central defenders Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak on deadline day to help fill the void.

Klopp admits he does not expect to see Van Dijk back in competitive action this campaign.

He said: “In the moment, I don’t know where these things are coming from – nobody really, no doctor, nobody really told me there’s a chance for Virgil to play in this season again.

I don’t want to say that’s absolutely impossible but it’s not likely. It’s not likely. We don’t have to discuss these things really.

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“If we have space we would put them all on, even when all the medical people tell us there’s no chance. We put them on because we believe in miracles from time to time.

“But if there’s no place then we have to consider these kind of things and say, ‘The chance is not too big so we have to make the decision.’

“But if they are on the list then it’s only because we hope for nearly a miracle. That’s it.”

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January transfer window: Every Premier league club rated and reviewed

Those transfer sources can take the rest of the season off as it is solid footballing action from now until the summer. The proverbial transfer window has “slammed” shut.

Issues around Covid-19 and Brexit both ensured clubs have had to work with very little, or even nothing. But some have still come through, even given their lack of funds.

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Who are the winners and losers from the summer transfer window? It is back to school as we grade every Premier League team on their ability to get the deals they needed done.

(Estimated net spend figures from transfermarkt)

Arsenal

With a youthful revolution in full swing like nothing we have seen since the peace and love of the 1960s going on at the Emirates, there were never going to be any major acquisitions this window, but there have been some rather left-field, interesting signings from Mikel Arteta, addressing a few problem areas, while plenty of deadwood has been shifted, one more high profile than the rest.

He came, he saw, he tweeted. There were good times for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal, but he leaves London having very much flattered to deceive. A move back to Turkey makes sense for all parties, but his departure leaves so many questions unanswered, and a legacy even more difficult to define.

Two more starlets have come in to join the Gunners’ youth movement in Ozil’s place. Martin Odegaard’s name has been talked about for a long time, with the Norwegian having been tipped to become the next INSERT FAMOUS MIDFIELDER HERE throughout his youth. The hype seems to have been overplayed, but as he showed on loan at Real Sociedad last season, the 22-year-old still has plenty to give.

Arsenal never really replaced Emi Martinez in the summer, so Mat Ryan represents an excellent goalkeeping understudy to Bernd Leno, while Omar Rekik will add some much-needed cover at the back, given how many defenders have left in this January window. Where will Arsenal fans direct their ire now with Shkodran Mustafi having left? Loan moves will get some welcome game time into Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock, too. As January windows go, this was a very good one.

Ins: Omar Rekik (Hertha Berlin, undisclosed), Mat Ryan (Brighton, loan), Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid, loan).

Outs: Mesut Ozil (Fenerbahce, undisclosed), Sead Kolasinac (Schalke, loan), William Saliba (Nice, loan), Sokratis (contract terminated), Matt Macey (Hibernian, loan), Zach Medley (Kilmarnock, loan), Shkodran Mustafi (Schalke, loan), Ainsley Maitland-Niles (West Brom, loan), Joe Willock (Newcastle, loan)

Net spend: £2m

Rating: A

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Aston Villa

Things have been going well for Aston Villa this season, so this window was only going to be for the odd tweak, and in Morgan Sanson, Villa have a player who comes with much promise.

Touted as a potential France call-up, the former Marseille midfielder can provide competition in midfield, with his Champions League knowhow – he played twice against Manchester City in this season’s competition – adding an extra edge.

Keeping hold of Jack Grealish for at least another six months can only be a good thing, of course.

Ins: Morgan Sanson (Marseille, £14m)

Outs: Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split, loan), Tyreik Wright (Walsall, loan), Conor Hourihane (Swansea, loan), Henri Lansbury (Bristol City, loan), Indiana Vassilev (Cheltenham, loan)

Net spend: -£14m

Rating: B

Brighton

One of the coups of the January transfer window was Brighton’s acquisition of Moises Caicedo.

The list of clubs reportedly linked with the Ecuadorian is quite something: Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea, West Ham and Newcastle, and abroad from the likes of AC Milan, RB Leipzig and Club Bruges.

So how did Brighton pull off the deal? Well, it seems they simply worked the hardest, and established a trust and a working relationship with Caicedo’s club, and in the murky world of South American transfers, that dialogue matters.

Now, the question is, will he live up to the billing?

Ins: Moises Caicedo (Independiente delle Valle, £4.5m)

Outs: Bernardo (RB Salzburg, loan), Mat Ryan (Arsenal, loan), Glenn Murray (Nottingham Forest, loan), Warren O’Hora (MK Dons, undisclosed), Jayson Molumby (Preston, loan), Viktor Gyokeres (Coventry, loan)

Net spend: -£4.5m

Grade: B

Moises Caicedo was a wanted man this winter

Image credit: Getty Images

Burnley

With new owners in place, too late for this window, there has been at least some hope that the good times will return to the happy place that is Turf Moor.

But, the January transfer window has certainly kept Clarets fans grounded. To not even make a major loan signing – and we saw on deadline day there were plenty of options available – appears very foolish indeed.

Sean Dyche and his side have worked hard to drag themselves out of the mire after a poor start to the season, but again Dyche has not been backed in the transfer market by the club. It is incredible he sticks around, given the lack of resources at his disposal. A tough battle to avoid the drop awaits.

Ins: Benn Ward (Hastings, undisclosed), Anthony Gomez Mancini (Angers, disclosed)

Outs: Bobby Thomas (Barrow, loan), Lukas Jensen (Bolton, loan), Adam Phillips (Accrington Stanley, loan)

Net spend: £0

Grade: D

Chelsea

With a changing of the guard in the managerial hotseat, there was no time to get any deals done late in the day, and after the lavish summer spending, the Chelsea coffers, even with Roman Abramovich more than willing to keep topping them up, will be running low.

There is so much talent still to be fulfilled at Stamford Bridge that more new arrivals would just give Thomas Tuchel a monumental headache.

One bit of sad news, however, was the current squad’s longest serving player making a teary farewell. That club stalwart was Lucas Piazon, having amassed a huge total of one substitute appearance in the Premier League in over a decade at Stamford Bridge. A statue is being planned down the King’s Road.

Outs: Lucas Piazon (Braga, undisclosed), Danny Drinkwater (Kasimpasa, loan), Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan, loan), Baba Rahman (PAOK, loan), Jack Wakely (Brighton, loan)

Net spend: £0

Grade: C

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Crystal Palace

Not much is known about Crystal Palace’s only January arrival, but Jean-Philippe Mateta’s arrival will certainly bring welcome competition to the likes of Jordan Ayew and Christian Benteke, who have gotten away with dreadful scoring returns for too long.

One departure that will leave Palace fans wondering what might have been is Max Meyer, who came with such a glowing reputation, but never really got going.

Ins: Jean-Philippe Mateta (Mainz, loan)

Outs: Max Meyer (Cologne, free), Brandon Pierrick (Kilmarnock, loan), Scott Banks (Dunfermline, loan), Jarosław Jach (Rakow Czestochowa, loan), Sam Woods (Plymouth Argyle, loan)

Net spend: -£3m

Grade: C

Everton

One of the signings that took everyone by surprise was the arrival of Josh King at Everton. This was an old school deal, a throwback to the pre-Jim White days, where a signing just, you know, happened.

There was no linking of King with Everton, or sources suggesting a move was imminent. Everton swooped for their man, last minute, and got an exciting striker, with no risk involved at all.

King, who was linked with a return to Manchester United last season such was his fine form, has shown he can cut it in the Premier League, and will provide very useful cover for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, or an option in a wider forward role, to give goal-shy Richarlison a jolt.

Ins: Josh King (Everton, loan)

Outs: Matthew Pennington (Shrewsbury, loan), Jarrad Branthwaite (Blackburn, loan), Ellis Simms (Blackpool, loan), Yannick Bolasie (Middlesbrough, loan), Cenk Tozun (Besiktas, loan), Jonjoe Kenny (Celtic, loan)

Net spend: £0

Grade: B

Fulham

Fulham love a late, deadline day scramble.

The summer window saw Fulham’s transfer committee working in overdrive right up until the last minute, and deadline day this time was no different. It appeared Josh King would be heading to Craven Cottage until Everton pounced, but Josh Maja, of Netflix fame on Sunderland ‘Til I Die, did complete a loan move to the capital.

Maja should represent a significant upgrade on Aboubakar Kamara, who has left on loan, and will have plenty to prove. HIm and Ademola Lookman look to have the makings of an exciting forward line for Scott Parker’s side.

Ins: Josh Maja (Bordeaux, loan)

Outs: Anthony Knockaert (Nottingham Forest, loan), Stefan Johansen (QPR, loan), Matt O’Riley (MK Dons, free), Aboubakar Kamara (Dijon, loan)

Net spend: -£0

Grade: B

Leeds

Not much to report at Elland Road. There was never even a suggestion of any incomings to be had, which will lead to those inevitable questions about whether Marcelo Bielsa’s side will suffer burnout towards the end of the season, given their high-octane style of play.

Outs: Robbie Gotts (Salford, loan), Ryan Edmondson (Northampton, loan), Jordan Stevens (Bradford, loan), Jay-Roy Grot (Vfl Osnabruck)

Net spend: -£0

Grade: C

Leicester

The lack of activity at Leicester in the last two transfers windows is testament to the coaching abilities of Brendan Rodgers, who seems happy with his lot, content to put the work in on the training pitch.

Allowing Demarai Gray to leave is a curious one, however. So much talent, and you would think Gray is the type of player Rodgers would relish working with, but he departs having not been given a fair crack.

There has to be something more to the story. Bayer Leverkusen is an interesting move, and one that could see Gray at last, go some way to fulfilling his vast potential.

Outs: Islam Slimani (Lyon, free transfer), Filip Benkovic (OH Leuven, loan), Admiral Muskwe (Wycombe, loan), Matty James (Coventry, loan), Josh Knight (Wycombe, loan extension), Filip Benkovic (OH Leuven, loan), Darnell Fisher (AFC Wimbledon, loan), Demarai Gray (Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed)

Net spend: £0

Grade: C

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Liverpool

It was getting to the point at Liverpool’s training ground where the dinner ladies were being put through a crash course in how to play at centre-back.

Liverpool needed a defender, desperately, and they got two. Michael Edwards has done it again, all for less than £3m.

Ben Davies is very much seen as a stop-gap but he is likely to be required by Jurgen Klopp rather soon, especially given the news Joel Matip has been confirmed as a season-long absentee.

It looks like it will fall on deadline day signing Ozan Kabak as the frontline, instant remedy to Liverpool’s ailing backline. The young defender has plenty of potential – nicknamed the ‘Wall of Turkey’ – but having been part of a dreadful Bundesliga campaign so far this season with Schalke, there will be question marks about whether he can be thrown in at the Anfield deep end.

Allowing Takumi Minamino time at Southampton – the best place for future Liverpool stars to learn – makes a whole lot of sense, too.

Ins: Ben Davies (Preston North End, £2m), Liam Hughes (Celtic, undisclosed), Ozan Kabak (Schalke, loan)

Outs: Adam Lewis (Plymouth, loan), Liam Millar (Charlton, loan), Sepp van den Berg (Preston, loan), Takumi Minamino (Liverpool, loan)

Net spend: -£3m

Grade: A

Ben Davies signing for Liverpool at Anfield

Image credit: Getty Images

Manchester City

Diego Costa and Sergio Ramos. Just some of the ridiculous names linked with Manchester City this season.

With Sergio Aguero’s injury problems persisting, it did appear that City would delve into their owners rather deep pockets and invest in a striker, but City look so good at the back and in midfield this season that they may be able to win the title without a fit striker anyway.

Ins: Filip Stevanovic (Partizan Belgrade, £7m)

Outs: Thomas Scott (Port Vale, undisclosed), Ante Palaversa (KV Kortrijk, loan), Daniel Arzani (AGF Aarhus, loan), Nathaniel Ogbeta (Shrewsbury, undisclosed), Mix Diskerud (Denizlispor, undisclosed), Aro Muric (Willem II, loan) Jayden Braaf (Udinese, loan)

Net spend: -£7m

Grade: C

Manchester United

The paperwork finally got completed in January, and now Manchester United fans can start to get excited about one of Europe’s most exciting talents.

He may not have played much first-team football at Atalanta, but Amad Diallo’s stock has been rising for some time. His debut for United’s U23s at the weekend didn’t disappoint either, as he scored twice – one a Panenka penalty – in United’s 6-3 win over Liverpool.

Otherwise it was all about how many players United could get rid of. A loan move is just what the doctor ordered for Jesse Lingard, but Marcos Rojo remains on the books, however. There was no panic that a rumoured Rojo move to Boca Juniors didn’t get done, as the transfer window in Argentina is open until February 19. The fact Sergio Romero is still there, on his inflated wage, means United are downgraded.

Ins: Amad Diallo (Atalanta, £20m)

Outs: Max Haygarth (Brentford, loan), Ethan Laird (MK Dons, loan), Luca Ercolani (Carpi, loan) Timothy Fosu-Mensah (Bayer Leverkusen, undisclosed), Di’Shon Bernard (Salford, loan) Jesse Lingard (West Ham, loan), Tahith Chong (Club Brugge, loan), Fecundo Pellistri (Alaves, loan), Teden Mengi (Derby, loan)

Net spend: £-17m

Grade: C

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Newcastle

Finally, there are some good things happening for Newcastle fans in these most difficult of times.

It has been a miserable season so far for the Magpies but, after arguably their best performance of the season in their win at Everton at the weekend, there was further positive news as Steve was able to bring in a Brucey Bonus of a signing.

There is no doubting the talent Joe Willock possesses, he just needs some minutes, and he will get that in the north east. This could turn out to be a really good loan move for all parties.

Ins: Joe Willock (Arsenal, loan)

Outs: Rolando Aarons (Huddersfield, undisclosed), Rob Elliot (Watford, free), DeAndre Yelin (Galatasaray, loan)

Net spend: -£0m

Grade: B

Sheffield United

Money is tight at Bramall Lane, but a failure to just bring in any signing who could give the side a lift could prove costly.

Goals remain in short supply, with misfiring strikers common place in Chris Wilder’s ranks. Their survival could depend on summer signing Rhian Brewster finding his feet, and his goalscoring touch.

Outs: George Broadbent (Beerschot, loan), Michael Verrips (FC Emmen, loan), Jake Eastwood (Grimsby, loan)

Net spend: -£0

Grade: D

Southampton

Two products of the Red Bull machine meet on the south coast. Bringing in Takumi Minamino could be one in a long line of masterstrokes from Ralph Hasenhuttl.

Minamino needs games. Saints need goals. Hasenhuttl needs a certain type of player. All boxes are ticked, and everyone is happy.

The goals really have dried up at St Mary’s of late. It seems if Danny Ings doesn’t score, nobody scores, so some additional firepower is very welcome.

Ins: Takumi Minamino (Liverpool, loan)

Outs: Callum Slattery (Gillingham, loan), Tyreke Johnson (Gillingham, undisclosed), Josh Sims (Doncaster, loan), Jake Vokins (Sunderland, loan), Jann Valery (Birmingham, loan)

Net spend: -£0

Grade: B

Tottenham

Tottenham were top of the class after the summer window, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, with several of their more high-profile acquisitions hardly pulling up any trees so far. Looking at you, Gareth.

For the reasons many have struggled to strengthen this transfer window, there was no money to overhaul the squad, but there were some big names touted to leave during the January window, only for the moves to not materialise.

It now begs the question: what now for Dele Alli? A reunion with Mauricio Pochettino looked to be on the cards at Paris Saint-Germain, but he remains in London, on the outside looking in.

Outs: Jack Clarke (Stoke, loan), Harvey White (Portsmouth, loan), Anthony Georgiou (AEL Limassol), Shilow Tracey (Cambridge, loan), Maurizio Pochettino (Watford), Troy Parrott (Ipswich, loan), Paulo Gazzaniga (Elche, loan)

Net spend: £0

Grade: C

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West Brom

Probably the only side whose January business bettered their summer dealings. Sam Allardyce has trawled Europe’s bargain bins, and brought in some much-needed quality.

Robert Snodgrass can still cut it at the highest level, he just needs a bit of love, while two loan signings in Mbaye Diagne – who we have already seen make an impression on debut against Fulham at the weekend – and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will also improve Allardyce’s options.

These are the kind of players Allardyce could have done with from the very start. After this kind of window, West Brom at least have a better chance of survival.

Ins: Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Arsenal, loan), Robert Snodgrass (West Ham, undisclosed), Andy Lonergan (free transfer), Mbaye Diagne (Galatasaray, loan), Okay Yokuslu (Celta Vigo, loan)

Outs: Charlie Austin (QPR, loan), Jonathan Bond (LA Galaxy), Kenneth Zohore (Millwall, loan), Rekeem Harper (Birmingham, loan)

Net spend: -£1.5m

Grade: A

West Ham

The much maligned and unfairly ridiculed David Moyes can do no wrong at the moment.

On the pitch, things are going from strength to strength, as the Hammers remain the Premier League’s surprise package, and off it, the club has enjoyed a more productive January than most.

While we are yet to see Said Benrahma really find his best form, having now made his move completely permanent, he can really kick on, while few needed a fresh start more than Jesse Lingard. The Manchester United attacking midfielder has so much talent, but has struggled to produce the goods on a consistent basis. He will be desperate to prove his worth at London Stadium.

One major outgoing provided an additional lift. Sebastien Haller has the ability, he was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time. To get over £20m for him, in this current climate, is very good business indeed.

Ins: Frederik Alves (Silkeborg, undisclosed), Said Benrahma (Brentford, £20m), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United, loan)

Outs: Sebastien Haller (Ajax, £20.3m), Robert Snodgrass (West Brom, undisclosed), Dan Kemp (Leyton Orient, undisclosed), Goncalo Cardoso (FC Basel, loan), Winston Reid (Brentford, loan)

Net spend: -£1.5m

Grade: A

Wolves

A striker was needed at Wolves as Raul Jimenez continues to recover from injury, and that is exactly what Wolves got.

With money again tight, getting hold of a striker who scored double figures in his last three seasons in La Liga, prior to the current campaign, for nothing is fine work in the difficult climate.

Another option up front, as Fabio Silva’s struggles continue, would have been nice, but one extra body up top will have to do.

Ins: Willian Jose (Real Sociedad, loan)

Outs: Niall Ennis (Plymouth, undisclosed), Ruben Vinagre (Famalicao, loan), Oskar Buur (Grasshoppers, loan), Ryan Giles (Rotherham, loan), Roderick Miranda (Released), Jamie Pardington (Mansfield, loan), Luke Matheson (Ipswich, loan), Meritan Shabani (VVV-Venlo, loan)

Net spend: £0

Grade: B

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Southampton have signed Japan international Takumi Minamino from Premier League champions Liverpool on a loan deal until the end of the season, the south coast club said.

Southampton coach Ralph Hasenhuettl said the 26-year-old, who has played 26 times for Japan, would offer a good attacking option in the second half of the campaign.

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“I’m very pleased to welcome Takumi to our squad for the rest of this season,” Hasenhuettl told the club website.

This will give us some additional depth in our squad at an important time, and I’m looking forward to beginning work with him on the training pitch.

Southampton also confirmed striker Shane Long had sealed a loan switch to Championship side Bournemouth for the remainder of the season.

Defender Yan Valery will also play in the English second tier for the rest of the campaign after completing a loan move to Birmingham City.

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TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES

Jurgen Redknapp

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All that was missing was Jurgen Klopp cruising into Melwood, winding down the window in his 4×4 and leaning out for a friendly interview. Indeed, it may have happened were we not gripped by a pandemic where only the most essential activities (and drives to test your eyesight) are allowed.

One can only imagine the reaction of Liverpool supporters when they realised they had a German Harry Redknapp at the helm. “Ben Davies? He’s alright but he’s not having the best of times under Mouri… what do you mean the other Ben Davies?”

Of course, Ben Davies II wasn’t the main event at Anfield. That accolade was reserved for ‘The Turkish Wall’, Ozan Kabak, who arrives with much hype from Schalke 04 – Eurosport Germany’s Tobias Hlusiak (reluctantly) told us he’s like a fast Mats Hummels. In the interest of balance (read: to irritate Liverpool fans) we should add that Schalke are bottom of the Bundesliga and Kabak was the main attraction in a defence that had conceded nine more than anyone else in the German top-flight.

But enough goading. With Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and now Joel Matip all injured forever, Liverpool had to act. And, more selfishly, there wouldn’t have been a deadline day frenzy without them. They capped an otherwise underwhelming deadline day at the 11th hour by allowing Takumi Minamino to join Southampton on loan and Mo Salah to leave for Real Madrid. Bet you missed that last one.

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Elsewhere…

Not the most eventful day, but:

  • Arsenal have shipped out Ainsley Maitland-Niles (loan to West Brom), Joe Willock (loan to Newcastle) and Shkrodan Mustafi (forever)
  • Tottenham legend Gedson Fernandes has switched to Galatasaray, still on loan from Benfica
  • After starring in multiple Euro Papers, Sami Khedira disappointed us all in signing for Hertha Berlin
  • Moises Caicedo, the player we’ve all claimed to watch in the U-20 Copa Libertadores, has moved to Brighton
  • Everton, not wanting to be completely upstaged by their neighbours, signed Josh King after midnight (which is probably cheating, but we’ll let them off)

Head here for ALL the deals from deadline day.

Disappointment for Dele

Did anyone actually think this one would happen?

OK, we did for a bit. Alli would have thrived under his former manager, the man who elevated him to such great heights, in a team where he wouldn’t be scolded for trying the occasional flick. But there was always going to be a double problem: Daniel Levy and Jose Mourinho.

Levy was hardly going to give Mauricio Pochettino a leg-up at PSG. He knows that if Pochettino succeeds in Paris, and Mourinho continues with his toilet tactics, the blame will mount at his door. Meanwhile, Mourinho already has a lengthy scrapbook of players he unfairly rejected, so why would he risk another ‘I told you so’ moment?

Alli going to PSG only risked muddying the reputation of both men and Alli can’t prove them wrong if they never let him leave.

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IN OTHER NEWS

Michael Owen: Footballer, commentator, coronavirus expert.

RETRO CORNER

Here’s the greatest January Deadline Day signing, Jermain Defoe, banging in five goals for Tottenham against Wigan:

COMING UP

More Premier League football! Four games including Sheffield United versus West Brom in the battle for who finishes 20th (18:00) and Manchester United’s tame draw with Southampton (20:15).

Marcus Foley made a big move in the January window – from Tuesdays to Wednesdays in the Warm-Up rota

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Liverpool complete surprise Davies transfer

Liverpool have announced the capture of Ben Davies from Preston North End.

The 25-year-old central defender has joined on what Liverpool called “a long-term contract”.

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The deal to bring the Championship player to the current Premier League champions is reported to have cost the club an initial £500,000, with the fee rising to £1.6 million if add-on clauses are met.

Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Davies said: “I’m obviously delighted to be here.

“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].

“I’ve never actually been to Anfield and I haven’t had a look around yet. I had a quick look out and had a look at the pitch and it looks like carpet, which obviously you’d expect.

“I haven’t actually walked out of the tunnel yet, so I’m looking forward to that. Just to be in this kind of atmosphere is brilliant.”

Davies has played 145 games with Preston and will help fill in for injured duo Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.

Liverpool are also expected to complete the signing of Ozan Kabak from Schalke 04 on an initial loan deal with an arrangement to buy in the summer.

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'The Turkish Wall' who idolises Van Dijk: Liverpool target Kabak

It’s hardly a surprise that Liverpool have been active on deadline day. The Premier League champions are without Virgil van Dijk for the season, with Joe Gomez a long-term absentee and Joel Matip injury prone.

They are targeting two defenders. The first is Preston North End’s Ben Davies who, per Eurosport’s Insider Dean Jones, could well go out on loan after Liverpool’s defensive unit are back to full fitness. The other is Schalke’s Ozan Kabak, who, should he move to Anfield, is expected to go straight into the first-team squad having proven himself in the Bundesliga.

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Kabak, who is still just 20, came through the youth system at Galatasaray, making his debut at 18, and joined Stuttgart less than a year later in the 2019 winter transfer window. That year he was named Rookie of the Season in the Bundesliga, despite playing just half the season.

Ozan Kabak of FC Schalke 04 looks on during the pre-season friendly match between FC Schalke 04 and Aris Thessaloniki at Stadion Kematen on August 28, 2020 in Kematen in Tirol

Image credit: Getty Images

His performances were such that he was on the move again, this time to Schalke just six months after joining Stuttgart. At the Veltins-Arena, he has blossomed into one of the best young central defenders in Europe, nicknamed ‘The Turkish Wall’ in various scouting circles according to James Pearce of The Athletic.

Initially seen as a developmental prospect, Kabak was thrown in at the deep end at Schalke due to injuries. He ended up starting in 21 Bundesliga games and came off the bench in a further five. The Turkish international scored a towering header during his first start for the club – a 3-2 win over Augsburg – and ended the season with three goals.

By Kabak’s own admission he sees his strengths in the physical department.

“I would say my heading ability is good, because I scored a lot with my head before, at Galatasaray,” Kabak told the Bundesliga website last year.

I have good physicality, like pace and jumping.

However, Kabak is far more than fast and strong. This season in the Bundesliga he has completed 87.9% of his passes. While that’s worse than Fabinho, Van Dijk and Gomez but better than Matip, it’s important to frame it around the context of Schalke being bottom of the table in Germany.

One of the other areas where Kabak is perhaps too modest is his mentality. Throughout his career coaches and team-mates have constantly remarked on his maturity. How he wants to learn and how he reads the game and leads on the pitch. These are the sort of rare, intangible qualities that scouts and managers crave when they’re watching players.

Here’s former Aston Villa midfielder and Stuttgart director of football Thomas Hitzlsperger on the youngster that his club had for just a few months:

“It’s incredible how worldy-wise he is for his age. It’s astonishing. I see him every day and am amazed at how mature he is.

Ozan Kabak and Robert Lewandowski

Image credit: Getty Images

He wants to know everything; he wants to learn German right away and understand everything. That’s the kind of attitude we need. He’s already a role model, despite his age.

Tobias Hlusiak of Eurosport Germany calls Kabak a “calm” defender and adding that although he is a little raw “he has a lot of talent.”

Although Hlusiak doesn’t like to make comparisons, when pushed he says: “I would take a reach here and compare him to a young Mats Hummels, just considering his overall talent level and ability to score from set-pieces. [I am] talking about the year 2009, when Mats was still fast…”

As far as Kabak is concerned he sees Van Dijk as an idol, telling the Bundesliga website:

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. I like his style and how he plays, so I can say he’s my football idol.”

Of course the one red flag on Kabak is an incident from September 2020, when he was suspended for five-matches for spitting at Werder Bremen defender Ludwig Augustinsson.

Kabak insisted that it was an “accident,” saying “the TV angle gives a deceptive view of the incident,” and he “never did that before and won’t do it in the future.” Hlusiak adds “that incident has been a huge shock, even to himself. Nothing crucial happened since. In fact, it is the only time he has ever been sent off and I wouldn’t consider him a dirty player at all.”

The incident was particularly controversial given the context of the pandemic. However, as Hlusiak points out that is very much a singular blot on Kabak’s copybook.

On the pitch Kabak is an exceptional talent and it is understandable why Liverpool, along with a host of other European giants, have been tracking him for some time. Turkey are on the cusp of a real golden generation, with Kabak at its heart; he captained the U17s at the European Championships in 2017 and already has seven caps for the senior team to his name.

Kabak suits Liverpool’s situation perfectly: he’s good enough to start immediately with plenty of room to develop. Who knows, perhaps next season he will be the starting centre-back for Liverpool alongside his idol…

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Liverpool 'in race against time' to sign Kabak from Schalke

Premier League champions Liverpool have turned their attention to Schalke’s Ozan Kabak as they look to strengthen their defensive options in January.

Liverpool have seen Joe Gomez and Joel Matip join Virgil van Dijk on the treatment table and the club are expected to bring in new options on deadline day.

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Preston North End’s Ben Davies is expected to join and the Reds were also initially linked to Duje Caleta-Car from Marseille.

However the French side are unable to get a replacement in so Liverpool are now pushing to bring Kabak in.

The 20-year-old was a target of the Reds in the summer and they will look to bring him in on an initial loan according to a report from Sky Sports.

The report adds the initial fee will be around £2.5 million with an option to buy in the summer. Schalke bought him in 2019 for around £13 million.

Like Marseille, Schalke will only let their player leave if they can get a replacement in.

Schalke reportedly know who they want to bring in but the transfer window in Germany shuts earlier than England, at 5pm, which increases the pressure on the deal.

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James will be here shortly to guide you through the morning and early afternoon but one big angle at the moment is Liverpool looking to try and address their defensive crisis. Preston defender Ben Davies is set to join for £2m today, as detailed by Paper Round, while another name could come through the door too. Dele obviously wants to sort that move to PSG, while a bunch of clubs are in the market for Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who isn’t a regular at Arsenal.

According to transfer oracle David Ornstein, Southampton and Leicester are the leading contenders…

It has been a rather quiet January transfer window, which, given the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, is hardly surprising. However, there are some interesting storylines that have yet to reach their conclusion. Dele Alli to PSG, Christian Eriksen back to Spurs as his replacement? James Kilpatrick, on transfer deadline day blog duties until 16:00 before handing over to Alex Netherton, ran the rule over any potential deals here.