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Scout Report

Scout Report | Ozan Tufan: Turkey’s Hottest Prospect

Turkish football’s productivity – unsurprisingly – is deplorable. Enes Ünal and Ozan Tufan are the hottest prospects right at the moment. When it comes to football, European clubs hesitate to make an investment on Turkish players. Some Turkish journalists call it ‘passport problem’ but for me, it’s all about reputation. Turkish players must tighten their belts and work harder than ever.


Who Is Ozan Tufan?

Ozan was born in Bursa, Turkey on 23rd March, 1995. He played a number of tournaments with his school team and was discovered by Bursaspor’s academy scouts at the age of 9. Subsequently, he joined the youth ranks of Bursaspor. Tufan’s development at this stage was a little restricted due to injury. He missed the Coca Cola U-15 leagues in Turkey and some doctors suggested that he would never play football again. While he did eventually recover from the injury, he had to play through the pain in order to stay in the team. After a year in distress, Ozan grew up and lost some weight, as well. With his injury worries behind him, he made an excellent come back, shining in his role as a right back and winning his place in the team.

Talent Radar Accolades:

At the age of 19, Ozan worked with 4 different managers in one and a half seasons, a development that wasn’t really positive for his growth as a player. Since the beginning of the 2013-14 season though,  he has seen a lot of first team football. Although he struggled to get playing time under Christoph Daum, Bursaspor’s  current manager Şenol Güneş has given him chances to showcase talents regularly. He is one of the main midfielders at Bursaspor, and competes for his spot with Fernando Belluschi.

Although he was just a youth team player at a point, an U-17 Coca Cola league game against Fenerbahçe has been one of the breakthrough moments of his career. His performance in that match was flawless and former Bursaspor manager Ertuğrul Sağlam was in the stands and watching the game. That game was one of the most crucial points of his short career so far.

Many feel that the Turkish national team should have been regenerated by now, although we haven’t seen any sign of it yet. Ozan is a part of this process, making it to national team and earning 9 caps at the age of 19. He scored this beauty against Denmark, as well. Ozan has played 16 games for the various age groups of the Turkish national team, and finally got his national debut in May last year, against Ireland.

At the start of the 2014 – 15 season, there were some serious offers on the table from Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. Lately, according to serious rumours circulating in the Turkish media, Fenerbahçe made an enticing offer to Bursaspor and some journalists are quite confident that Fenerbahçe will bring him to Şükrü Saraçoğlu at the end of the season. On the other hand, outside the domestic sphere, Manchester United and plenty others have sent their scouts to Bursa in order to obtain detailed reports on Ozan Tufan. The point being that Ozan is a talented player who is being monitored by a lot of big teams.

The youngster was named in our 100 Best Young Players to watch in 2015 feature, as well as the 2016 edition.

 Style, Strengths and Weaknesses

Ozan’s versatility is his biggest strength. He can play as a defensive midfielder, a box-to-box midfielder and as a right back. The best part is that he is perfectly comfortable in all three positions. He has decent vision and possesses sufficient awareness when he has the ball at his feet. His forward runs are deadly especially when he plays as a box to box midfielder. With or without the ball, he can determine the empty spaces between defenders and make incisive runs. His performance against Trabzonspor was fascinating. He scored a goal and gave an assist to Volkan Şen.

In the opinion of this writer, Bursaspor should play with 4-1-2-1-2(diamond) system in order to get the best out of Ozan Tufan. As a box-to-box midfielder he can control the right side of the pitch and cause headache for the opponent. Forward runs, crosses, deadly passes and with some decent finishing ability, he can become a top midfielder. He pretty much looks like Jordan Henderson as a box-to-box player with less aggression on the defensive side of the game. If he plays as right back in diamond, he can shine with his decent attacking potential, although one feels that he would definitely have some defensive problems.

The above Vine shows a pass he laid on. His technical attributes are well advanced. His passing, first touch and ball control are good enough to make him a success in any league in the world. Despite his current level, one feels that he can still get much better. The most impressive thing about him is his drive to improve, and the hunger to succeed. He has immense potential. His physical attributes are improving: despite his age, he’s quite well built, and well capable of coping with the physical pressures of playing top level football. Tufan has decent stamina, balance, and pace, but lacks the acceleration that is often desired. He has every chance to improve on physical department though, as he is still a teenager. Ozan’s strengths are a bit raw and he needs to develop in order to improve the quality of his game.

There are several weaknesses which he should work on immediately. While he can play as a defensive midfielder, he isn’t really adequate in that position. He lacks the aggression and the viciousness often associated with players in this position. The other problem is his defensive positioning. He tends to lose his position and cause some problems to his own defence. As a box to box midfielder as well, he looks good going forward, but is simply not effective enough when he needs to defend. This is a major weakness he has, and in order to do well in either of his positions, this is something he definitely needs to work on. The other aspect of his game that might need some work if he is to move abroad is the pace at which he plays his game. He may take some time adjusting to the rhythm of leagues like the Premier League and the Bundesliga.

His most conspicuous weaknesses is the defensive side of the game. He needs to learn quickly and work on these defensive handicaps. There is a big if, but if he does stay in Turkey and play for Bursaspor or any of the Turkish giants like Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş, he won’t be able to fulfill his potential. Turkey has major problems developing youngsters into complete players. Ozan should leave the country as soon as possible and play for mid-table Bundesliga or Premier league clubs in order to grow and fulfill his immense potential.

 What does the future hold?

The final question mark hanging over him is that of pressure. It’s a problem that all young and potential future stars face, but Ozan has more pressure on his shoulders as he is one of the few Turkish youngsters to emerge, and carries the weight of the expectations of a nation. He is one of the men who has the responsibility of carrying the national team forward. The Turkish media, like the media from a lot of other countries, is likely to put a lot of pressure on this new wonder-kid. This is the sort of behaviour that will only put more pressure on young Ozan’s shoulders. All young players should be able to handle this pressure from fans, media and rivalry in the team, but many don’t. If he can deal with the pressure, then he’ll be a important player for the Turkish national team and his club. That’s the biggest challenge confronting him. He has every talent to become a top player but his mental improvement will be key for his career.

Written by Mert Conker

Mert Conker

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