Real Madrid: 3 young CBs who would pair well with Raphael Varane

Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Raphael Varane (Photo by A. Ware/NurPhoto via Getty Images) /
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Ozan Kabak
Ozan Kabak (Photo by Mario Hommes/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Schalke CB Ozan Kabak

Dayot Upamecano is another great option here, but I want to go with a center back who isn’t linked to Real Madrid as frequently. Whereas every big team is in on Upamecano – from Bundesliga powerhouses Bayern Munich to Premier League pretenders Arsenal – Kabak has flown under the radar. Really, only Liverpool were linked to him closely in the 2019-2020 season.

Kabak is a breakout star, and he would be spoken about much more highly if he weren’t playing for arguably the worst team in Europe’s top five leagues in 2020. FC Schalke 04 have been wasting so many talented players, such as Amine Harit in the attacking midfield, and Kabak has now become the latest despite a bright start to life in Gelsenkirchen.

He chose Schalke over Milan and Arsenal, but he didn’t begin the 2019-2020 campaign as a starter. Kabak started after injuries to starters Salif Sane and Benjamin Stambouli, as the Royal Blues had a competitive group of center backs.

The Turkish international models his game after Virgil van Dijk, and it’s easy to see the Liverpool man’s influence in his game. Kabak is an aggressive, intelligent defender who has enough speed to hang with most players but can also reach into his bag of tricks to slow down speedier wingers whenever his fullback messes up (and Schalke’s right backs have messed up a LOT). Against Bayer Leverkusen last year, he had some standout plays against rising star Moussa Diaby.

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Just 20 years old, Kabak is one of the most underrated defenders in European football. Schalke are mired in financial troubles and currently in the Bundesliga’s relegation zone due to their own institutional incompetence, so Kabak could be much, much cheaper than Upamecano, Kounde, and de Ligt. His attack-minded passing, willingness to move forward on the ball, and proactive and physical defending make him a good fit to play alongside Raphael Varane one day.