Jurgen Klopp believes Ozan Kabak has had to deal with unfair expectations during the early weeks of his Liverpool career. Klopp says he doesn’t see Kabak’s inability to line up alongside any of the injured trio of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip or Joe Gomez as an issue and thinks the Turkish youngster has adjusted as well as could be expected in his first six weeks at the club.
Jurgen Klopp said: “I didn’t see it as a problem yet. I heard – I didn’t read it – there was some criticism when Ozan came. This is the world we are living in. You bring in a 20-year-old boy and everyone wants him to solve all our problems in one second and you don’t give him time at all. We didn’t see it that way – and we are quite critical with ourselves and with the boys as well. Ozan played from the first moment really good. Did he play as good as he can, his best performance ever? Probably not. But when we spoke about Ben (Davies) we said how difficult these things are. It makes it really tricky but he tries to adapt but when you try to adapt immediately you cannot be yourself naturally because you try to adapt to other people and it takes a while to do both – adapting to others and being yourself. I am completely happy with the performances so far and of course everyone knew he was an amazing talent at 20 years old so I don’t see that as a problem that we cannot play him next to Virgil, or Joe or Joel. We see what we need to see?”
Wednesday’s 2-0 win against Leipzig came as Fabinho was moved back into midfield for the first time since mid-October. The Brazilian excelled in front of the back four after spending most of the campaign filling in as an emergency defender. Klopp also believes playing Fabinho in his natural position enables Thiago Alcantara to thrive as he praised the performances of Gini Wijnaldum as a defensive midfielder.
Jurgen Klopp added: “I’d like to start by saying Gini Wijnaldum did an incredible job. When you play Gini at No.6 you miss him on the No.8 as well, so a lot of things which were settled before were unsettled after that. Yes, Fabinho helps everyone on the pitch in both directions if he can play his natural position. That’s it. Yes, it makes like easier for Thiago as well but it’s not like we speak about it [saying] ‘one player back, now all the things will click again’. Unfortunately it is not like this but it helped that night because, for example, all three midfielders made a really good game. Fabinho played the first time for a long time at No.6 and you could see the difference he can make in defending stuff but connecting as well, you saw Gini Wijnaldum at No.8 defending and always involved with his mind and Thiago as well, and that’s why it worked. When Fabinho can play the No.6 it is obviously the best position for him and for us as well.”
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