Schalke: The excitement Ozan Kabak brings to the table

Schalke 04, Ozan Kabak (Photo by Bernd Thissen/picture alliance via Getty Images)
Schalke 04, Ozan Kabak (Photo by Bernd Thissen/picture alliance via Getty Images) /

Defensive players rarely get fans excited, but FC Schalke 04 center back Ozan Kabak isn’t like most defenders.

The future looks bright for FC Schalke 04, and Ozan Kabak is perhaps the biggest part of that bright future. When the Royal Blues purchased Kabak from VfB Stuttgart, they knew they were getting one of the best young players in Germany, but since they eased him into things by letting established stars Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli take care of business, even they couldn’t have anticipated Kabak being this good this soon.

Kabak, prior to suffering a significant injury in the Rückrunde, was the best defensive player in the Bundesliga when he joined the starting lineup after an injury to Stambouli. And when Sane went down with a serious injury, too, Kabak formed an impenetrable center back partnership with the more experienced Matija Nastasic.

According to, neither Kabak nor Nastasic have allowed more than 0.4 dribbles per game in 2019-2020. That is an insane defensive statistic which underscores the shutdown nature of their tandem.

Furthermore, Kabak averaged 1.2 interceptions per game and 0.7 blocks per game, showing heart and a reading of the game that is rare for a 20-year-old center back.

And although center backs aren’t known for making highlight-reel plays, watching Kabak defend was an absolute treat. Whether it was dealing with Moussa Diaby‘s blistering runs or nullifying Borussia Mönchengladbach’s jaw-dropping attacking trio, Kabak showed that defending is indeed an art.

It’s scary to think what Kabak can accomplish at Schalke in the 2020-2021 season, and the anticipation for his return to health and return to the pitch will continue to grow. Kabak was one of the best summer signings made by any Bundesliga club, and while questions will be asked about his future after the 2020-2021 season ends, Schalke fans will relish every single minute he plays.

Because Kabak is special. When watching his calmness on the ball, effective passing, and dangerous presence in the penalty area on corners, you know he means it when he says he models his game after Virgil van Dijk. Kabak is an intelligent, modern center back who has all the athletic tools and the composure of a star defender.

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It’s unclear if Schalke will benefit from Jean-Clair Todibo‘s skills and tireless defensive work in 2020-2021, but the Royal Blues could have the perfect partnership of young center backs in 2020-2021 if it all works out. And if they can’t keep Todibo, they’ll still have the Bundesliga’s future benchmark, Kabak, working with established league standouts in Nastasic, Sane, or Stambouli.