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PA Preston North End's Ben Davies (file pic).
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Liverpool recruit two defenders with Joel Matip ruled out for rest of the season
Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak have arrived to ease Jurgen Klopp’s considerable defensive issues.

LAST UPDATE | Feb 1st 2021, 11:01 PM

LIVERPOOL HAVE LOST Joel Matip for the rest of the season with ankle ligament damage after addressing defensive issues with the double deadline-day signing of Ben Davies and Ozan Kabak.

Matip was injured in a challenge with Tottenham striker Son Heung-min in Liverpool’s 3-1 away win last Thursday and will play no further part in the Reds’ Premier League title defence.

Manager Jurgen Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com: “It was really unlucky because it was a brilliant challenge he made actually, he saved our life in that moment in the Tottenham game when he won the challenge against Son.

“He injured his ankle and played the game on and now is out for the season, so you can imagine how much he tried to stay on the pitch and tried to help us.

“But he will be ready for the start of the next pre-season and finally everything will be sorted.”

liverpool-v-burnley-premier-league-anfield PA Joel Matip. PA

With Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez also out for the season and Fabinho currently sidelined, Klopp bolstered his defence before the January window closed.

Davies was signed on a long-term contract from Championship club Preston and Schalke’s Turkey central defender Kabak joined on loan until the end of the season, just an hour before the 11pm deadline.

The Premier League champions have paid an initial £1million loan fee for the 20-year-old Kabak, with the option to buy for £18m at the end of the season.

Kabak, who joined Schalke in July 2019 after spells with Stuttgart and Galatasaray, has won seven caps for Turkey.

Liverpool’s research included a glowing reference from David Wagner, close friend of Klopp and the former Schalke manager, who worked with Kabak for more than a year.

“Yes, Dave was very, very positive about him,” Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com. “He came very young to Germany and everybody was clear he was a massive talent.

“He is only 20 now. He plays in his second club (in Germany); he is at Schalke and unfortunately they are in a bad position in the moment.

“For him, I think it’s a really good moment to make the move because, like each player in the world, you need a stable team around you and that’s what we can deliver.

“He’s really a big, big talent and we are really looking forward to working with him. Dave always said he will be a future captain of a team. He is a proper personality.

“He could have gone anywhere but he wanted to make football steps and we are a proper football step for him. He wants to learn but he can deliver already.”

Davies, 25, plans to make the most of his “surprise” opportunity after joining for an  initial fee in the region of £500,000, plus structured add-ons.

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’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.”

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imago-20210124 Imago / PA Images New Liverpool defender, Ozan Kabak. Imago / PA Images / PA Images

Davies graduated through the academy ranks at Preston and played 145 times for the Lilywhites, scoring twice. He also had loan spells at York, Tranmere, Southport, Newport and Fleetwood.

He said: “I want to come in and play games to start with, I want to get my foot in the door and make myself a Premier League player and then take it from there really. I know we’ve got some top players here and players I can certainly learn from.

“I’m looking forward to coming in and playing in front of everyone and showing everyone what I can do. I’m sure a lot of fans and people don’t know (me), or haven’t even seen me play.

“It’s definitely an exciting time and I think they’ll quite enjoy watching me when I’m playing well.”

Preston will benefit from a 20 per cent sell-on clause on any profit Liverpool make on any further transfer of Davies and also any England appearance.

North End will also get the 19-year-old defender Sepp Van Den Berg on loan for free, with the first option for a loan next season should he start a certain percentage of matches in the current campaign.

Updated 23.01

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Press Association
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