This season several new teams emerged to challenge the domination of the usual winners in the European leagues. The Premier League saw Arsenal’s incredible performance; the Serie A saw the flawless wizardry of Napoli; the Bundesliga saw the emergence of Borussia Dortmund and the new rising giants Union Berlin against Bayern Munich. In the Netherlands, Feyenoord has surprised all with an eight-point lead at the top of the table ahead of favourites PSV and Ajax. And one of the players responsible for Feyenoord’s rise is their midfielder-in-chief, Orkun Kokcu.
The Turkish international has been at the club for more than eight years but has shown his best in the current season. In fact, his performances were so impressive that manager Arne Slot picked him as the captain Orkun Kokcu despite him being only 22.
And Kokcu has repaid the favour by marshalling his troops to their 16th Eredivisie title and first since the 2016-17 season. Moreover, Kokcu has also managed to raise the game of players around him, a prime example of which is Santiago Gimenez, who has been their top scorer this season.
Several clubs have also started to make attempts to sign him to a possible deal in the summer transfer window.
Orkun Kokcu stats
A product of Groningen’s and Feyenoord youth academies, Kokcu was deemed one of the best young talents in the Dutch league for years. However, after cutting his teeth for four years in the youth team, Kokcu was granted his senior team debut on September 27, 2018, in the KNVB Cup against VV Gemert. It took only 45 minutes for him to score his first goal, making him one of the youngest goal-scorers in the club’s history.
Over the next four years, Kokcu has grown season by season, becoming an integral part of Feyenoord’s team. However, it has been the current season where Kokcu has proved that he is more than ready to go up against the best that football has to offer.
Donning the number ten jersey, Kokcu has become the heart and soul of the team, especially in the attack. The Turk has scored eight goals and provided three assists but a closer look at his stats shows the immense difference he has made this season.
Stats from fbref show that no player in the top five leagues and the Eredivisie have managed to complete more progressive passes than Kokcu. In addition, he is also the second-best player when it comes to passes into the final third, only behind the impressive Jurrien Timber of Ajax.
Kokcu, brilliance doesn’t stop there. Kokcu is also expected to create havoc for the opposition as a number ten. And chaos he did create. Fbref stats show that except Lionel Messi, no player has made more passes into the penalty area among the top five leagues and the Eredivisie.
Kokcu has also not shied away from creating chances. According to Fotmob, Kokcu has created 78 chances for his team, the second-best in the league. However, the below-par finishing on most of his chances has kept his assists tally to only three. Nevertheless, Kokcu still manages to create one goal-scoring action every other game, among the top six percentile of midfielders.
Orkun Kokcu’s strengths and weaknesses
Despite wearing the number ten jersey, Orkun Kokcu is more of a box-to-box midfielder who loves to be involved wherever the ball is on the pitch. His heatmap from Sofascore is a perfect example of that where despite him playing 300 minutes less than the previous season, Kokcu has covered far more ground.
His passing range has also improved significantly, which has allowed him to play his way out of a dangerous area. Kokcu’s sole aim in the attack is to score and create opportunities for his team and for this with the best possible option. If he sees there is a gap on the wings, he will take the ball there; if there is a gap in the middle of the pitch, he will take the ball there; if he sees a teammate is in a better position, he will not hesitate to pass the ball.
- The rise of Wrexham is the stuff dreams are made of
- Youngest permanent Premier League managers in history
What differentiates Kokcu’s performance from earlier seasons is the responsibility of his play which has come after he was handed the captain’s armband. He is also a brilliant mix of a player with a brilliant ability to score goals and a world-class vision to create them as well.
Furthermore, his incredible obsession with always looking to move the ball forward ensures that Feyenoord controls the game’s flow for most parts of the match.
Kokcu has also taken up the defensive side of the game a notch up this season. As the team captain, Kokcu has more regularly tracked back to help his team. Moreover, even in the defence, the youngster uses his incredible vision to snuff out the opposition’s attack. Rather than going for duels, he prefers to block the passing lanes and just heavily man-mark his opponent, which usually causes the rival team to pass the ball to the back and end the attacking sequence.
However, one area where he should make immediate improvements is his dribbling. While Kokcu is an impressive passer, he will need to diversify his skill set if he wants to make it in a big league. And adding dribbling to his already incredible Arsenal of tricks will make him the next big star to emerge from the Dutch football system.
Orkun Kokcu transfer news
It is no secret that every year the top clubs raid Eredivisie for their best talents. And this season, Orkun Kokcu will be on the top of any club’s wishlist looking for a creative goal-scoring box-to-box number eight.
And as many as four Premier League clubs are interested in acquiring the services of the talented Turkish international. These four clubs are Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Brighton. While the first three have the allure of being a financially superior club, Brighton have been on the rise for the last two years and are the only clue that can guarantee him a starring role in their side from the word go.
However, with his release clause estimated to be only £30 million, other clubs will likely also try their luck. For now, though, Orkun Kokcu, at 22 years, is leading an underdog team to a league title, certainly one of the best starts to his career that he could have hoped for.