Holland’s youth system has for many years been an example for other countries, and has contributed several stars to their national team, and the other top leagues of the world.. One of the new starlets of this exemplary system is Oguzhan Ozyakup. Every single Beşiktaş fan expects Oguzhan to make a huge impact on the team. The Dutch born Turkish player has shown flashes of his talent, and there is no doubt that he has the potential to become one of the most important players in the country.
Who is Oguzhan Ozyakup?
Oguzhan Ozyakup was born in Zaandam, Netherlands on 23rd September 1992. Oguzhan’s dad had an influence on his son’s career. Oguzhan stated that his father discovered his talent and encouraged him to start playing the sport and Oguzhan started his football career at AZ Alkmaar’s Academy. At first sight his coaches realized that he has immense potential, he had a decent goal ratio as an attacking midfielder when he was playing for AZ Alkmaar’s youth ranks.
He played in couple of tournaments with the AZ youth ranks and at 16 years old he had two offers on the table. One of them was from Sampdoria and the other, from Arsenal. He didn’t have any doubt before saying yes to Arsenal. He wanted to improve and working with Wenger was a dream for Oğuzhan.
3 years after he signed with Arsenal, Oğuzhan was named as a substitute for the Premier League game against Manchester United. It was the worst game of the Arsene Wenger era at Arsenal as they lost 8-2 to United. However, it wasn’t the worst start for Oguzhan. He showcased his talent in youth ranks and Arsene Wenger followed his development. Arsene gave him a chance against Shrewsbury Town in a League Cup tie.
Oguzhan played for two junior national teams, Turkey and Netherlands. He played for Netherlands U-17 and U-19 scoring 7 goals in 21 games. He then got a call-up to the Turkish U-21 side and has since scored 3 goals in 5 games for the Turkey U-21 side. He has also played 4 games for the Turkish National team but hasn’t been able score yet. Unfortunately for him, Turkey won’t be at the World Cup next summer, denying him the opportunity to rub shoulders with the best players in the world. He may have broken into the National team for now, but will face stiff competition to retain his place as Turkey has been blessed with some excellent attacking midfielders. Hakan Calhanoglu (here’s a Scout Report on him) is one of them and certainly there will be a battle between the two to find a place in the team. Oguzhan will always be in the squad but he won’t be first choice. Without a doubt he’s gonna serve the National team for years to come.
Ozyakup has stated that he idolised Zidane as a youngster, but once he move to Arsenal he learnt his football from a certain Cesc Fabregas, learning from him in training and pushing himself everyday to be more like the Spaniard.
Style, Strengths & Weaknesses
Oguzhan Ozyakup is an attacking midfielder with immense technical abilities. AZ Alkmaar’s youth academy and Arsenal’s system helped him to improve his technical abilities. His passing, first touch and ball control are world class. With the ball at his feet he is arguably one of the best in Turkey, and at just 21 his experience from Netherlands and England will help him grow in the league.
His movement on the pitch is excellent. He likes to operate in the gap between his midfielders and strikers. This season, he could have been far more effective than he currently has been, but his contributions have been restricted a bit due to the presence of Manuel Fernandes. Fernandes is a slightly reckless player, and not a very good passer. This tends to increase the workload placed on the young shoulders of Ozyakup. He does share a good relationship with Almeida though. He knows how to use Almeida, the Portuguese target man has developed a good understanding with Ozyakup, with the youngster creating chances for him. Their performance as a partnership against Fenerbahce, in the 3-3 draw, was flawless. One of his biggest strengths is his knack of accurately gauging the abilities of his teammates, and playing in a way that suits them.
Besiktas is an attacking team and Oguzhan perfectly fits into this team because of his attacking mindset and technical attributes. He knows how to control the tempo of the game and at the same time, he manages to play direct. He runs with the ball with the ball at his feet, very often and efficiently. While he is on the run with the ball, his vision helps him to find the right man. As mentioned above, he enjoys playing in front of the midfielders. He also works in tandem well with Olcah Sahan. Olcah mostly plays as a left winger but he likes to cut inside and provides free spaces for Oguzhan, the young Turk benefits from those free spaces to score goals and create assists. There is no doubt about the fact that Oguzhan is an intelligent player; vision is key for his game and he is aware of every movement on the pitch which helps him to take right decision with almost every pass he attempts. From time to time he comes back to defence to receive the ball and start the game from the back.
Up until now, he has been forced to blend his technical attributes with his very limited physical strengths. Physical insufficiency can restrict his performance in a game. He makes a lot of good forward runs until the 60th minute, but after this point, it is almost impossible to see him on the pitch. He played in England for four years and England is probably the best place to improve your physique. At Arsenal we’ve seen Koscielny, Arteta, Walcott and many others improve in terms of physique but Oguzhan couldn’t make the step up, and that’s probably why Wenger let him go to Besiktas.
His defensive contribution is very limited too. He is good at neither pressing, nor zonal marking. Evidence from his reserve matches at Arsenal seems to indicate that he hasn’t made much of an improvement as a defensive contributor. He has obviously improved on the technical side of his game, but his physical and defensive improvement aren’t evident. As a player, he doesn’t seem very keen about the defensive side of the game.
Concisely, he needs to improve physically, otherwise he won’t be able to play at top level. Currently, his physcial stature, or lack of it, restricts his game. He could’ve been much more efficient with better physical attributes.
“Oguzhan Ozyakup’s transfer to Beşiktaş was an important step for the club’s ongoing project; a young Turkish player with low cost and high potential who can improve with the team. After getting used to Turkish league, he’s now one of the key players in the squad. It’s no coincidence that Beşiktaş are more productive when he’s on the pitch. An extraordinary vision, effective dribblings and key passes with full confidence, he can take on any opponent without hesitation. However he has to improve his stamina, strength and off the ball play. If he can adapt to different roles and become more versatile it’s sure he’ll be pursued by European giants. His development is not only crucial for Beşiktaş’ long term project but also the Turkish national team’s future”
— Can Caliskan, FourFourTwo (Turkey) author