It’s not often that a player makes such an impact at a club in such a short space of time that most of the biggest clubs in Europe are scrambling around for their signature, but that’s just been the case for Ozan Kabak.
The Turkish teenager joined Stuttgart in January from Galatasaray, and although the German side were relegated via the relegation play-offs, Kabak impressed immensely, winning the Bundesliga Rookie of the Year award despite playing just 15 league games and scoring three goals along the way, and after such a season it is unsurprising to see the defender linked with a move away to some of Europe’s best, and West Ham.
According to Kicker, the Hammers, as well as Schalke, have made the first contact with Stuttgart for the signing of Kabak this summer, who has a reported release clause of £12 million, and if Manuel Pellegrini can somehow secure the signature of Kabak, it could be one of the best long-term investments the club make in some time.
With the success of Issa Diop last season, the Hammers have shown that they are able to identify promising defensive players, and in Kabak, the club can repeat the feat again with the 19-year-old centre-back.
Comparing their stats on WhoScored, it’s easy to see how similar the Turkish defender is to Diop. Although the teenager played 18 fewer games, Kabak still fairs well against the French centre-back, making more tackles per 90 at 2.2 to 2.1 and attempting more dribbles per game at 0.9 to 0.2.
Of course, Diop beats Kabak out for interceptions, fewer fouls conceded and more clearances per 90, but that is understandable considering the West Ham man played 33 games last season compared to the teenager’s 15, which is what makes the Turk so impressive.
Interest is high in Kabak this summer, and West Ham can yet again stun the world by beating those who are interested in the defender and in doing so establish a centre-back partnership that can hold the defence down for years to come.