Mike Ashley can end Steve Bruce’s defensive dilemma with a late Deadline Day deal for Newcastle United to sign FC Schalke 04’s Ozan Kabak.
According to the Daily Mail, Bruce had sought to acquire Kabak on loan until the end of the season but the Toon deemed a move too expensive.
The 20-year-old has not missed a second of action across his Bundesliga side’s last 11 top-flight fixtures following a challenging start to the campaign, with Kabak seeing an indirect suspension result in a four game ban.
West Ham United and AC Milan have previously been credited with interest in Kabak after Schalke warmed to offloading the Turkey international for €15m (£13m), having accepted that the centre-half is one of few Die Konigsblauen could still demand a lucrative fee for.
Liverpool have also now entered the race for the defender, who Stuttgart sporting director Thomas Hitzlsperger lauds as a “role model”, with Sky Sports (Transfer Centre, 1/2, 10:21) claiming Kabak is prepared to undergo a medical in Germany if the two sides are able to agree on the terms of a deal with the Reds proposing a £2.5m loan fee.
He was formerly considered unsellable among the Schalke hierarchy, who recognised that the Gelsenkirchen outfit would have to sell some of their key players to fund arrivals in the winter market who could steer the club away from the relegation zone.
Kabak would appear to have been an option very much on the market in the winter sales, with reports in Germany claiming Schalke were open to selling the 7-cap beast and reports in England suggesting Newcastle only walked away from a loan after hearing the financial terms needed.
But Bruce should not relent on his interest in the Turkish youngster and should urge Ashley to dig a little deeper to meet Die Konigsblauen’s demands, as Kabak could help solve the Toon’s defensive nightmare.
The Magpies have just lost captain Jamal Lascelles again after the centre-half sustained a hamstring injury in United’s win over Everton on Saturday, which is expected to keep him sidelined for several weeks.
Lascelles had only just returned to Premier League action 12 days prior following a lengthy period out after testing positive for coronavirus, and now joins Federico Fernandez in the medical room just as Ciaran Clark and Paul Dummett returned to training.
Newcastle’s spate of injuries have forced Bruce into fielding midfielder Isaac Hayden in the backline recently, but no such thoughts would cross the Magpies boss’ mind if Kabak were signed.
Despite Schalke’s torrid campaign that sees the Veltins Arena natives sit rock bottom of the Bundesliga, Kabak has been a star as he comfortably collects possession with 1.2 successful tackles and clears danger 3.9 times a game. He also wins a mammoth 4.1 aerial duels and 3.0 ground duels game, per SofaScore.
Only Fernandez (1.5) has been successful in as many tackles a game in the Premier League for Newcastle this season among Bruce’s current centre-halves, with Lascelles offering 0.83, Clark 0.82 and Fabian Schar 0.71.
Schar further offers fewer clearances (3.36), while no Toon defender wins as many ground duels or aerial duels with Fernandez (2.25 ground) and Clark (3.73 air) the top-performers.
Bruce faces a race against time to get Ashley to dig a little deeper and sign Kabak, but Newcastle would stand to benefit greatly from beating out Liverpool’s late interest and getting a deal done.