Liverpool were able to land a much-needed pair of defenders on deadline day in order to bolster Jürgen Klopp’s squad. And in Ozan Kabak, the club, from top to bottom, was able to settle on a compromise that served the needs of all involved.

The final day of the January transfer window proved to be a rip-roaring success for Liverpool.
Jürgen Klopp was able to beef up his defensive department in the short-term and, as long as Michael Edwards and his band of merry analysts are right in their evaluation, the long-term.
Adding both Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak was a smart move. It was a darts-at-the-dartboard approach. Liverpool had been sniffing around Kabak dating back to last January; he is clearly a long-term target. Davies fits more of the we-need-a-warm-body approach, but has a skill-set that could thrive at the top-end of the sport. At a minimum, he helps bridge the gap to the return of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, and acts as an insurance policy if neither is able to rediscover the old magic — he can then be flipped on to another club to recoup the £2 million outlay.
Taking multiple swings was the right approach. Maybe neither adds much this season. Maybe one does. Maybe both do. Maybe Kabak is the long-term solution that Klopp had been craving all this team. Regardless, having a number of options is neither a bad thing, and certainly not with the ever-growing injury list.
That Liverpool are only paying a £1 million loan fee for Kabak, with the possibility of an additional £500,000 based on appearances is interesting. In fact, the Kabak deal as a whole, its structure (a loan with an option to buy) and the finances involved (relatively little now; £25 million in the summer to pickup the option) tell us a number of things:
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  • Money is tight everywhere. Whether it was genuine concern for Liverpools ownership or not, they acted in the market as though the non-stop briefings about the clubs finances and the market during the pandemic were real. There was no real outlay for the club. The money spent on Kabak was more-or-less offset by allowing Takumi Minamino to leave the club, both in wages and fee. This was not a case of Liverpools ownership group panicking over the clubs top-four spot and loosening the purse strings. They shuffled money around, but it wasnt a serious financial commitment. Whether thats right or not remains open to interpretation
    . But the owners at least practiced what they leaked. It seems this little money now, the possibility of a decent chunk of money in the summer for a long-term target was the perfect compromise for ownership, the recruiting staff and the manager.
  • Liverpool are not the only ones: January deals — the volume and fees involved — crashed across the board. Almost every club in Europe was reticent to be the first pile big money into the winter window. Schalke, a club with rotten finances and in real danger of an apocalypse-like situation (in football terms), were willing to let one of their most prized assets go for a rather paltry sum in the hopes Kabak performs and brings in £20-plus million in the summer when the club is relegated to the second division of German football.
  • The pressure is on Kabak. Joining this Liverpool team isnt easy, mentally or stylistically. Joining from a historic loser, Kabaks mentality will now have to flip. Every Liverpool loss is a mini-crisis; thats the price that comes with being champions with title aspirations. And then there are the technicalities: the 2 vs. 2 defending; the carefully choreographed build-up patterns. Klopp and co. will need him to speed fast, which is a big ask. And Kabak will want to hit the ground running himself in order to secure a permanent move in the summer. Already, the pressure is on, which is not how Klopp and his staff typically like to operate. But exceptional circumstances call for exceptions.

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  • Liverpool are not all-the-way sold on Kabak. At least, theres some trepidation there. As stated, Kabak has been a long-term target for the club. Yet Michael Edwards and his cohorts spent the final day of the window haggling over whether or not the summer option on signing Kabak permanently would be an option or an obligation. Getting the option is smart, it inoculates the side from any sort of crisis-type situation, be it an injury or any other kind of issue, such as the playing being bad. The option over obligation is essentially a get out of jail free card. Had Liverpool been 100 percent convinced that Kabak was their top target for the now and beyond, the obligation would have been no issue. An extra £20-plus million for a long-term defender? Happy days. By keeping it as an option, Michael Edwards keeps his options open. Maybe he can snag one of the Leipzig defenders in the summer if theyre readily available — as they are reported to be. Or maybe he goes back to Schalke with the width of the summer window and renegotiates. Look, hes great, but were going to have to do £15 million instead. The market just isnt there. Decision-makers like options. And the structure of the Kabak deal, by definition, gives Edwards just that.
  • Jordan Henderson can return to midfield. Hold off on the idea of Fabinho and Henderson returning to midfield for the time being. One will need to remain at the back as both Davies and Kabak get up to speed. And even then, Fabinho is just more naturally gifted at the back than both — for now. He is the teams best centre-back option, and so he should remain there. But having the two newbies alongside Nat Phillips will allow Klopp to redeploy Henderson in midfield. The captain has been outstanding at the back and he may still need to slot in from time to time. But the new additions should free up the manager to move Henderson back to his preferred and best role.

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  • The Joel Matip injury is bad No duh. The club announced Matip was out for the season with a ruptured ankle ligament as soon as the deals for Kabak and Davies were completed.
  • Its possible that Matip has now played his last game for the club. He is too unreliable. The club is unable to plan in any way with him as a real, actual piece. Finding a suitor in the summer may be tough, and its possible that hes kept around as a why-not option — its always nice to have one of Europes finest centre-backs available when fit, so long as theres no reliance that he has to play.
  • Micahel Edwards still has no time for your preconceived notions. You can add a 27-year-old centre-back from a middling Championship club and a centre-back from a soon-to-be-relegated-in-embarrassing-fashion to the growing list of moves that see Edwards attack market inefficiencies and what is expected of a title-contending club. Edwards will be banking of one of Kabak or Davies to fit the Gini Wijnaldum/Andy Robertson role.