In an ideal world, Ozan Kabak would have liked his Liverpool audition to go under easier circumstances.
Throwing himself into the dying embers of January, the young defender was given a small window to prove he belonged.
Kabak would only have three months to settle down and impress on Jurgen Klopp’s side and the young Turkey international is also said to be required to do so in one of the worst performances in years for his new club.
For more measure, the 20-year-old is expected to stop an alarming slump without the help of a senior center partner.
With Joel Matip sidelined for the remainder of the season alongside Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, Kabak was asked to lead an inexperienced defense away from trouble as hopes of defending their title irreversibly vanished. .
It would be hard work for any new signing, let alone someone just 20, arriving on an injured team in a new league, mid-season.
“Everything I have experienced in Turkey, Germany and England, having played for four different teams and the experience of being part of the Turkish national team as well, has been and continues to be very valuable to me.” , said Kabak himself.
âTherefore, I think you always have to keep improving. I talk to my coaches about things I should improve and try to apply their advice.
“I think in life, whatever you do, if you focus on being one of the best, you’re more likely to reach the top.”
With only February, March, April and May to claim a long-term future at Liverpool, Kabak knew his time was limited when he arrived.
So an injury that would rule him out of the final month of the Premier League season was far from the desired situation.
The Reds have secured a third place in the Premier League with Kabak sitting on the sidelines for the last five games.
Liverpool, for their part, saw their loan transfer from Schalke as a trial before buy transaction, with the Â£ 18million fee not mandatory.
Essentially, Klopp could properly apply the rule on Kabak before the club make a final appeal anyway by signing him.
It’s a move the Reds boss and Anfield sources insist has yet to be made as a tough season ended on a high last week.
Kabak said: “At the time of my transfer, Liverpool were obviously going through a difficult period in terms of injuries.
“That’s why there was no time to waste, waiting for adaptation and so on. A new country, a new team and a new group of players.
âWhen you think about it, you might be intimidated by all of these potential challenges.
“However, football has only one language and Jurgen Klopp is the master of that language.
âEverything is very clear with him and I think his way of telling us what to do and what to expect from us is very specific, so that was really helpful.
“I can always feel his confidence and that is very important to me. This constant support has helped me adapt quickly to the team.”
In truth, the limited time that Kabak, who turned 21 in March, spent with the group has proven inconclusive.
A competent defender with a lot of potential, the international has already had an interesting career for someone so young.
After climbing the youth ladder at Turkey’s biggest club in Galatasaray, Kabak made the courageous decision to leave his homeland as a teenager.
Joining Stuttgart in January 2019 at the age of 18, a few impressive months saw him transfer Â£ 13million to Schalke, traditionally one of Germany’s biggest clubs.
Kabak’s ambition didn’t end there, however, and he jumped at the chance to show what he could do with a short stint at Anfield.
An inability to strut alongside defenders like Matip, Gomez or, in particular, Van Dijk, wouldn’t have been ideal for the Turk, but he was still desperate to show what he could do at a club the size from Liverpool.
“I try to plan my career and be better at what I do instead of dreaming,” he said, in an end-of-season interview with the official Liverpool program.
âIn football, teams can become champions by winning matches and footballers can become more valuable by improving.
“And I’m focused on being a much more valuable asset to my club and my country.”
Kabak could keep his promise to become “more valuable” as he prepares for the next step in his fledgling career.
But at Â£ 18million here and now, Liverpool already know their value.
The decision is in their hands.