It is no surprise in these quiet times that the media is rife with transfer speculation and our beloved Arsenal and our pro-active young coach seem to be linked to a ludicrous number of players in various positions. At this stage most seem baseless either because we are being linked to players in positions that don’t seem priorities, such as a partner for Saliba, when it is illogical that we would begin next season with an entirely new pairing. In addition, some of the prices attached to those we are ‘allegedly’ in pole position to sign, are currently a tad rich for our financial position.
That is not to say I don’t read all the rumours as much as the next supporter and I have been known to have a punt on transfers if I get a whisper. (There is a new offer for Betfred signup.) One rumour that is proving quite persistent in recent weeks is that suggesting we are in prime position to sign 19-year old Dutch-born, Turkish International midfielder Orkan Kokcu from Feyernoord.
There are several things about this player and link that made me take a closer look. Obviously as the headlines suggest he is a play-maker, or central attacking midfielder and that will always pique my interest, given the uncertainty around Mesut Ozil’s future. Indeed the papers are labeling him the new Mesut Ozil. I have long been of the opinion that the days of a passing Ozil style 10 are largely over and previous articles I have written on Jack Grealish and our own Emile Smith-Rowe bear witness to my long held opinion that if we are to persevere with a 4231 or a variation of it, then we need a Santi ’12/’13 style attacking midfielder capable of breaking the lines with a trick, a dribble or a pass, rather than just through exquisite passing alone.
What appeals to me when watching and reading about Kokcu, is that like Grealish, and perhaps ESR, he is comfortable in a 433, as he plays now in Holland, or a 4231, as he might be asked to play should he come to Arsenal. He can play the traditional box-to-box, Aaron Ramsey-style role, but unlike the Welshman he is very relaxed carrying the ball at feet. He is adept bringing the ball out, or passing long, interlinking with midfield colleagues and has superb off-the-ball movement, which Arteta will love.
Those observing the youngster’s rapid progression in the Eredivisie suggest that his ability to find the available and correct pockets of space to receive the ball are well beyond his years, and almost instinctive, but better still he has the trait only the very best have: already having a picture in his mind where the next best pass will be, ahead of receiving the ball. It brings to mind, and I am not making a comparison in talent here, the way Dennis Bergkamp played and thought, if you read his biography.
Those reading the lazy journalism suggesting Kokcu is an Ozil style playmaker, might look at his return of 3 goals and 6 assists in all competitions and dismiss him based on that contribution. However, he is playing in a fluid 433 for Feyenoord and not consistently the most advanced midfielder. Moreover, he is still young and even now his passing accuracy in the opposition penalty area is over 80% and it is not hard to imagine how effective he might be if he was played in the more advanced role and in a position to make more of those passes.
The young Turkish international is, as I mention, an impressive ball-carrier and his effective dribbling attributes are born of his stocky low centre of gravity – think young Wilshere, or Jack Grealish – although he is slightly taller at about 5 ft 10. Like those players, he has immaculate close control and it is upper body strength and knowing when to add a burst of pace rather than trickery which enables him to beat his man so often. He also throws in regular faux moves, using his body position, in receipt of the ball under pressure, suggesting a pass, before turning swiftly to dribble. Add to all this that he likes a shot and is entirely two-footed: a less and less common trait in the modern game, and one we have missed since losing Cazorla.
I sort of hope this transfer story has legs as he seems the perfect player for Arteta and the way he sees the game. I assume it will depend on the actual cost, the rumoured £25m seems about our likely top price and what our coach’s plans are for the development of Smith-Rowe and what role he sees for Ozil. Certainly he would cost less then half what Grealish will be valued at by Villa.
Anyway, you can enjoy one of the player’s last outings this season below, which highlights all of the attributes I have described delightfully. In fact, I will leave you with one last description, that came to mid watching this and that is ‘young Cesc-like’ which is high praise indeed.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.