FC Schalke: How much hype is too much hype for Ozan Kabak?

Ozan Kabak, Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)
Ozan Kabak, Schalke 04 (Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images) /

FC Schalke called on Ozan Kabak in a moment of desperation and he delivered in every conceivable way, so am I wrong in being worried that he’s so good?

I am so, so allergic to overhyping. I fear it like I fear juniper. (I’m deathly allergic to juniper.) So to see Ozan Kabak doing so well so early in his FC Schalke career, I worry myself into a tizzy. How good is he really, and is it too much to call him the next best defender of all time?

Maybe so. But here’s the thing—Schalke have lived on their defense in recent years. Under Domenico Tedesco, they pretty much won 1-0 or they didn’t win at all. This was a solid, sturdy team built on the shoulders of centerbacks.

While David Wagner is different, he still put heavy focus on constructing a battering back line. Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli is a tremendous pairing and, as such, they did tremendous things together, helping Schalke to become one of the more formidable defenses in Germany.

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Then injury struck, and a ripple of panic surged through this fan base. Both starting centerbacks went down—and are still down—with potentially season-ending injuries.

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There was only one person that David Wagner could turn to. Ozan Kabak, the man who was deemed not quite ready just weeks prior. Ozan Kabak, who idolizes and studies Virgil van Dijk, but please don’t call him the next Virgil van Dijk.

To say that the transition from Sane and Stambouli to Kabak and Matija Nastasic has been seamless would be an understatement. It has been no trouble at all. If anything, we’ve seen even more tremendous moments of individual defensive acuity with these two than we did with the stoic resolve of our previous combo.

Against Union Berlin, for instance, both Nastasic and Kabak saved a goal all on their own. Plain and simple.

You can credit Nastasic if you like, but no defensive pairing is built upon the shoulders of just one man. Kabak has been pulling his weight and, if you were to ask me, he’s carrying even more weight because he’s just that freakishly good.

I don’t even care that he’s got two goals and an assist in his first five Bundesliga starts. I don’t even care that only Benito Raman, Suat Serdar and Amine Harit can boast a better goal-scoring record in that time.

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I care about how fricking amazing he has been in defense. And with it, I am helping myself overcome the fear that we are just overhyping him. Because how could we be? He really is that good.