Who is Arsenal target Orkun Kokcu?
Background image: Felicilijonas, CC BY-SA 3.0
Recent reports suggest Arsenal opened talks with Eredivisie giants Feyenoord regarding 19-year-old midfielder Orkun Kokcu. The Gunners had some luck in dealing with the Rotterdammers once before. Robin van Persie turned out alright. Can they strike gold again?
Kokcu represented the Netherlands’ youth sides before switching to represent Turkey at international level. Yet to debut for the senior squad, he is capped for the Crescent-Stars' U21s. Meanwhile, the Premier Leaguers reportedly hope to close the deal before Euro 2020 when Kokcu is likely to be called up to Turkey's senior team.
Scouts from around Europe track the teenager’s progress since he stepped onto the De Kuip pitch. So far in 2019/20, he contributes two goals and four assists. An attacking midfielder with an eye for a long shot or pass, his comfort on the ball stands out. Despite only breaking into the starting XI this season, Kokcu organises many of Feyenoord’s attacking moves with his extensive passing range. Compared to Mesut Ozil due to his playing style, he is two inches shorter than the veteran Arsenal playmaker, standing at 5'9. It may not be long until they are playing together in the same team.
Kokcu made the move to Feyenoord’s academy from Groningen in 2014. He broke into the first-team picture last season after turning heads with the U19s. He scored in his senior debuts in the league and KNVB Cup, netting three goals in total and adding four assists in 11 Eredivisie appearances last term. Only veteran Leroy Fer betters his 84% passing accuracy in Dick Advocaat's side. Fans love his exuberance on the pitch. Talented and a crowd-pleaser, it's little wonder scouts are so keen on him.
Kokcu’s current contract at Feyenoord runs until 2023 but he is said to be available for £23 million. Gunners fans with long unfulfilled yearnings to shove a rocket up Ozil’s arse may hope acquiring a younger version of the star may finally send him packing. Of course, you must be careful what you ask. If Kockcu recalls a youthful Mesut Ozil now, who is to say he won't develop a similar reputation when his game develops? After all, it isn't that Ozil is lazy; Arsenal fans somehow convinced themselves he is. Statistics past and present reveal the former German international tends to cover more ground than teammates. Once an idea settles in supporters' minds, though, it's surprisingly difficult to root out.
That said, Kokcu's price tag reportedly discouraged several suitors. Transfermarkt values the budding star at £6.3 million, £20 million, give or take, below Feyenoord's alleged fee. Paying well over the odds for an attacking player with just two goals on the campaign understandably induces fear of buyer's remorse.
On the other hand, his talent is clearly evident when he plays. Kokcu’s performances this season will almost certainly invoke a call-up to Turkey’s senior side for the Euros. Given the chance to display his wares on a global stage, positive performances will only drive his fee higher. If Arsenal want their man, they may need to move quickly.