Salih Ucan was born in Muğla, Turkey on the 6th of January, 1994. He grew up at Marmaris which is the borough of the city of Muğla. A Lot of tourists visit Marmaris in the summer season. İn 2004, when he was ten years old, Salih Uçan started to play football at Marmaris Belediyespor as an attacking midfielder. He was part of the team until Bucaspor showed up and offered 30,000 TL (€12,000) for him. He moved to İzmir in 2008 which is the third biggest city in Turkey. The Bucaspor youth Academy is one of the best academies in Turkey along with Galatasaray’s youth academy. He started to play for the youth teams of Bucaspor and in 2010 he made a huge impact on the team after which he signed a Professional contract with the club. He played in the first team for two seasons. İn his second season at Bucaspor he had a massive role in the first team. He proved that he needed to move to a bigger club. He met the expectations at Bucaspor. İn 2012 his stint at Bucaspor ended when Fenerbahçe thought that Salih can become a great player in near future .They made an offer for him of €1.4 million plus one young player.
At such an early age, he was sitting on Fenerbahçe’s bench but compared to the other young players he had more playing time. Salih Ucan has demonstrated in his limited playing time that he can become a major part of Fenerbahçe. İn the second half of the 2012 – 2013 season he has been part of the first eleven of Fenerbahçe, playing in the Europa League, Ziraat Turkish Cup and Turkish League. His performance in Europa League was spectacular, he played in seven games and scored one goal, a great strike against Victoria Plzen. His solid performance against Benfica in the semi final of the Europa League showed everyone that he is ready for the top level.
“We went to Usak to watch U-15 games, we didn’t go to Usak to watch Salih, its been a coincidence. He was talented. When we first brought him to İzmir, two psychologists helped him to improve his confidence”. These come from the ex-coordinator of Bucaspor. We can understand that his game is based on his confidence, which is very good at the moment.
Ucan doesn’t have a house in İstanbul. The manager and his family decided that he needs to stay in the training facilities to concentrate on his game. He is rich and young, but his life style has been built to improve his game. He doesn’t have a regular night life and thanks to his life style, we haven’t heard lots of rumours about him. His life style has been an example for every young talent in Turkey.
Salih Ucan will be the key player of the U-20 national team in the U-20 World Cup in Turkey. He has been called up by U-18, U-19, U-20 and U-21 national teams. Overall, he has played 53 times for the National teams at various age levels. He’ll be the key player for the national team in the near future.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
At first sight you can understand that he is playing with his brain. He is very smart and he can reflect it on the field. İf you watch his goals against Orduspor, you would understand what I mean. He is a great passer, his vision on the pitch is one of his main strengths. Ucan can play as both, a central midfielder and attacking midfielder. When he plays as an attacking midfielder he prefers to use one-two passes and he creates great chances for the strikers. When he plays as a central midfielder he prefers to support attacking players with his passes, forward runs and through balls. He comes back to the defence to start the attack. He always helps the forwards by making lots of forward runs in every game. This creates spaces for the strikers. Also, it helps him to score more goals; he is a decent finisher and when he is alone with goalkeeper, he can score with both his feet. His ball control is flawless. Ucan is good in all these departments but his willingness to train is his best characteristic. He usually does extra training to improve his football, and this work ethic is important for his development.
One of his main weaknesses starts to appear when Fenerbahçe start to defend zonally. Sometimes, he may lose his position on the pitch, sometimes you can see him between the defenders or together with the striker up front. He would benefit by doing more positioning training, and improving his defensive ability.
The other weak point in his game is, his crosses. He can’t cross the ball efficiently. İf he supports the attacks from wings, he can’t end the attack with a decent cross to the strikers.
His physical evolution hasn’t finished yet. He’ll be better physically and we can’t consider it as a weakness. Despite his lack of development, he has adapted to the Turkish league in terms of physique. He has to improve physically to play in more competitive leagues.
His mental strength has been put to test against Benfica and he has managed to pass that test. We do know that mentally he is capable of playing at highest level, I know that it is hard to say he is strong mentally after just one match, but I have watched him live couple of times and he was brilliant mentally. He doesn’t get angry easily, he doesn’t lose his control easily. All these facts prove that he is mentally strong. His confidence is great at the moment and if he can keep this momentum, his evolution will take place faster.
İt is hard to state his market value at the time but I can say that his next transfer fee probably will be higher than €10 million. He has just proved himself at Fenerbahçe. Personally I don’t think Fenerbahçe will let him go in the near future. But on the other hand, big clubs of Europe have started to scout him. İnterest from big clubs can blow away his mind. Turkish media wrote that big clubs from England sent their scouts to watch him in İstanbul.
According to Goal.com, Arsene Wenger has sent his scouts to İstanbul and is monitoring his situation in Fenerbahçe. There will be more rumors about his future, because he is a talented and improving young player. Young players have always been attractive to big clubs and the media try to benefit from this situation. My opinion is he will be the key player for Fenerbahçe for several more years, and then move to a bigger league and a bigger team. Up until now, he and his manager managed to keep media away from his life, we don’t know what will happen in the future. İt is hard to guess his future at Fenerbahçe.
This article was written by Mert Conker, who has completed Scout courses in Turkey and holds a Scout Certificate. You can follow Mert on Twitter @Mertconker
Original featured image used, taken from ntvmsnbc.com