Souness tips Liverpool new boy to oust Gomez, Matip as Van Dijk partner

Date published: Saturday 20th February 2021 4:30 - James Marshment

Graeme Souness

Ozan Kabak has the qualities needed to become a long-term success at Liverpool and he looks best placed to become Virgil van Dijk’s long-term defensive partner.

The 20-year-old, on loan from Schalke until the end of the season, earned the Man of the Match award in Tuesday’s win over RB Leipzig.

The defender enjoyed a steady evening as the Reds built up a strong Champions League first-leg lead. Indeed, a sliding challenge which earned him a yellow card proved one of few questionable moments.

However, the clean sheet and 2-0 win will be remembered as the most important aspects of the match; Jurgen Klopp‘s men will travel to the second leg of the last 16 tie with a strong advantage.

Indeed, pundit Graeme Souness says he likes what he sees in the Turkish star. He claims the 20-year-old has the qualities to eventually become Van Dijk’s partner in the Reds rearguard.

Souness told Sky Sports: “He’s a good player. He’s finding his feet in our football. On first impressions, I think he’ll be fine. We’re quick to judge people in our football; he’s a young man, and finding out about the players he’s training with every day.

“It’s a totally different environment. But he will be welcomed at that football club, in the city, and I think he looks like someone who can be an asset going forward for Liverpool.

“I’m not sure if Klopp is totally set on a partner for Van Dijk going forward, and he might be the one.

“I always believe your back four and goalkeeper is a unit within your XI. That understanding develops with playing week in, week out with each other. I see that as a vital part of the team, to have that understanding.

“The two full-backs and goalkeeper know all about Van Dijk, [Joe] Gomez and [Joel] Matip, and that’s paramount.”

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Souness backs ‘selfish’ Salah and ‘warrior’ Mane

Souness, meanwhile, reckons Mohamed Salah might be the most selfish player he’s ever laid eyes on.

However, the Scottish firebrand claims the Egyptian’s goals record more than justifies his actions.

“I have to say Salah is a star because, you come back to consistency, he scores goals every year,” Souness said.

Sadio Mane Liverpool forward Black Lives Matter salute

“He’s also the most selfish player I’ve ever seen and that isn’t a problem for a striker.

“I’m sure his teammates wouldn’t be happy on occasion but he is a star.”

Souness believes Mane too also deserves plenty of praise after he hailed his fighting spirit.

“Mane as well – it’s a word you wouldn’t associate with Mane but he’s a proper warrior. I don’t think anyone gets an easy ride when you play against him.

“You could kick him in the first minute and then every five minutes after that. But he’ll be back after you at every turn, he’s a real player.”

READ MORE: Liverpool keen on explosive Sevilla star as LaLiga outfit push for Minamino


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