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Caglar Soyuncu 2.0

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Over the years, we have seen a trend in the rise of young prodigy footballers from the Turkish league. There is the new Real Madrid signing, Arda Guler, and then there is Benfica’s rising star Orkun Kokcu. Others to emerge are Galatasaray’s Efe Akman, who comes from a family of esteemed footballers, and the 16-year-old left-back Yasin Ozcan. And now 19-year-old centre-back Arif Kocaman has become the latest star to emerge from the league.

The teenager who played 13 games for Kayserispor in the 2022-23 season has already made an impact, with several clubs already shopping an interest in acquiring his services. At such a young age, Kocaman has shown maturity and talent far beyond his years.

However, his real test will be the 2023-24 season, where he is expected to play a more prominent role in the squad. It will also help him determine whether he can continue his high level of performance over an entire season.

So, who is Arif Kocaman, and how good is he?

Arif Kocaman profile 

Born on September 14, 2003, in the city of Tavsanlı, Kutahya Province, Kocaman started his footballing career at local club TKİ Tavsanlı Linyitspor in 2013. He stayed there till 2017 before he left to join Sakaryaspor.

It was at Sakaryaspor that he would start to show signs of being a very talented prodigy. And for the next four years, he continued to demonstrate that as he progressed through the various age groups teams at the club.

And at the end of the 2020-21 season, the clubs debuted him in the TFF Second League against Etimesgut Belediyespor. The following season he made two appearances for the team in the Turkish Super Cup, playing the entire games.

However, with first-team opportunities not coming his way, Kocaman joined Turkish Super Lig club Kayserispor. After joining the club, Kocaman was immediately sent to the under-19 squad, where he made 11 appearances.

His performances were so impressive that before the end of the season, first-team manager Yalcin Kosukavak handed him his professional debut on May 14, 2022, against Yeni Malatyaspor.

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Style of play 

At the start of the 2022-23 season, there were high hopes for Kocaman, and he didn’t disappoint. Across the entire season, he made 20 appearances, 14 of which came in the Turkish top flight. During the season, he also scored his maiden goal against Fenerbahce.

The season gave us a glimpse of Kocaman’s strengths and weaknesses. The defender is good at passing the ball, but it is his duels ability, especially in the air, where he shows his high potential.

Stats from Soccerment show that he was the fifth-best player on the team in terms of aerial duels won. Kocaman also won 60 clearances, the third-best in the squad. These numbers came when he only played less than one-third of the minutes compared to his teammates.

Kocaman not only wins a considerable amount of duels but also wins them consistently. His ground duel-winning percentage is 55.3, and aerial winning duels are 56.9.

One unique attribute about Kocaman from his first season was his limited involvement in the attacking half of the pitch. While a strong reasoning could be p[resented that he was only 18 in his first season in a top-flight league, it is an area where he must improve upon in the current season.

Arif Kocaman potential 

With Arif Kocaman celebrating his 19th birthday in September, this season will go a long way in determining his future. After an impressive previous season, Kocaman has a high chance of becoming a designated starter for Kayserispor.

The club finished ninth in the previous season, a position they will look to improve massively. This means that players like Kocaman will be given more opportunities.

Kocaman is also blessed with pace, which allows him to be a great asset to a team, especially during an event of counter-attack. Furthermore, he also has shown that he is unfazed in any situation, which shows his ability and confidence in his skills.

The young defender is currently in a situation where he has proved that he has immense talent but needs to back it up consistently to take himself to the next level.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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