Turkey defender Ozan Kabak may only be 20 years old, but he is already a key player for Schalke. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga
Turkey defender Ozan Kabak may only be 20 years old, but he is already a key player for Schalke. - © DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

Ozan Kabak: Who is Schalke's rising defensive star?


Ozan Kabak "idolises" Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, plays rather like Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos and has attracted interest from Bayern Munich, among others. bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the imposing Schalke and Turkey centre-back...

Ozan Kabak

Age: 20
Club: Schalke
Position: Centre-back
Country: Turkey (One cap)

Key stats

Kabak joined the Galatasaray youth academy at the age of 11 and went on to make 14 first-team appearances for the club, 13 of which fell in the first half of the 2018/19 campaign. He linked up with VfB Stuttgart during the winter break, and ended 2018/19 as the youngest first-team regular in the Bundesliga alongside Jadon Sancho (both were born on 25 March 2000) - not to mention the Rookie of the Season. Following VfB's relegation to the second tier, Schalke made their move in summer 2019, clearly impressed by his average of one interception every eight minutes and three goals in 15 games from centre-back.

Watch: A look back at Ozan Kabak's best work in Stuttgart colours

Kabak played in 26 Bundesliga matches for his new club in 2019/20. He won the most challenges of any of his teammates, and chimed in with another three goals, as well as one assist. Already a seasoned youth international, the Ankara native duly earned his senior debut in the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying win over Andorra in November 2019, completing the full 90 minutes. Four bookings across the entire league campaign, meanwhile, speaks to a player who likes to keep things clean. Indeed, the 6'1" defender has never been sent off in over 60 competitive appearances at club level.

Plays a bit like: Sergio Ramos

Kabak has a sound in-game radar and a deceptively quick turn of pace. Powerful in the air and with a great sense of timing, four of his six Bundesliga goals have been headers. He also comes complete with the same bite for which Real captain Ramos has become so well known. No wonder record champions Bayern were once so keen to deck him out in red.

"My agent and I spoke with Bayern," Kabak recalled in an interview with Bild. "I'm a young player. It's important for my development to play a lot. That's why, after very good discussions with David Wagner and Michael Reschke, I decided to join Schalke."

Did you know?

Kabak's brace in Stuttgart's 5-1 win over Hannover in March 2019 saw him overtake Hakan Calhanoglu as the youngest Turkish player to score twice in a Bundesliga game (aged 18 years, 11 months and seven days). Only Timo Werner and Horst Köppel were younger in scoring their first doubles for Stuttgart.

What they're saying

"He's certainly one of the most talented defenders of his age in Europe." - Schalke head coach, David Wagner

"It's incredible how worldy-wise he is for his age. It's astonishing. I see him every day and am amazed at how he mature he is. He wants to know everything; he wants to learn German right away and understand everything. That's the kind of attitude we need. He's already a role model, despite his age." – Stuttgart sporting director, Thomas Hitzlsperger

"He's got a lot of potential. He's still very young. You could see in the game against Hannover that he's got a lot of talent. He's very laid back, very calm and doesn't let the club's current situation [in a relegation fight] bother him. He's definitely got the talent to play at a big club." - Stuttgart midfielder, Gonzalo Castro