Turkish football has seen many big talents who have failed to make an impact at the top level. The likes of Serdar Özkan – who was thought of as a more talented player than Barcelona man Arda Turan, but now plays as a rotation player for mid-table team Eskişehirspor, and Batuhan Karadeniz, who failed to play regular football even in Turkey’s top tier and plenty of others have failed to be successful. Enes is the great new hope, and the greatest since Hakan Şükür! Enes is potentially the best striker in the country and the only player who has the chance to exceed the great Hakan Şükür.
Who is Enes Unal?
Enes Ünal is the son of a professional footballer, Mesut Ünal who played for Bursaspor and Sakaryaspor. The father had an inspirational effect on his son and provided him an environment to grow as a footballer. He was 9 when he started to play football at Bursaspor’s academy. In just over 3 years, the Turkish international managed to play 120 games for his academy, and scored more than 170 goals. With this exceptional performance, he was promoted to the first team and got some limited game time under Daum. The German manager wanted to be careful with Enes though he could have been played a bit more to prove himself earlier.
Talent Radar Accolades:
- 2016-17 Eredivisie Team of the Season
- Named in 100 to Watch in 2016 feature
- Named in 100 to Watch in 2017 feature
- Finished 5th in Talent Radar Performance Rankings (Forwards) 2016-17
Enes, just 18 years old at the time of writing, was born on 10th May, 1997 in Bursa, Turkey. Over the last couple of years, plenty of teams have shown serious interest in the starlet. Hamburg, Dortmund, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Milan, Juventus and others have followed his development closely. According to the sports media, some of those teams made an official approach to sign him but their attempts were rebuffed. He was 15 when he first caught the attention of the European clubs but preferred to stay at Bursa to continue the development. Moreover, leaving his family behind at such a young age could have had a destructive effect on young Enes Ünal.
Enes’ debut game was against Galatasaray and he came on as a substitute in the 72nd minute to score three minutes later and become the youngest player to score in the Turkish league at the age of 16. Although he didn’t get many chances to prove himself in the following weeks, it was a great first impression for the Turkish football fraternity. It was clear that he should leave the country to carry on his development.
He will be a key player for Turkish national team in the future, of that there is little doubt. Enes has played 49 times for different age groups of the national team and scored 43 goals in these games. His goal ratio has been fantastic and earned him his first cap for the senior national team. At the age of 18, he’s only played once for the national team and hasn’t been able to score but if he continues his development, he’ll be the most important player alongside with current captain Arda Turan.
Unal featured in our list of 100 Best Young Players to Watch in 2016.
Style, Strengths and Weaknesses
Enes’ biggest strength is his mentality. Although, he is a young and inexperienced player, his attitude both on and off the pitch is admirable. Work rate, modesty and determination are important characteristics that will help him succeed at the top level. On the other hand, his versatility as a striker is very useful. He can play as a target man, lone striker and support the main striker with his movement. He does everything and has the potential to become one of the best.
The Turkish international is good at take ons. More importantly, he can combine the different components of his game. After a successful take on, he can finish and score. He can hold up the ball and protect it before distributing it to the wings or running midfielders. His awareness of the development of the game around him is decent. Unlike other Turkish starlets, his positional knowledge is quite advanced and thus, he can score plenty of goals. His intelligent forward runs are another plus. Although, there is plenty of room for improvement, he does his job efficiently. One of Enes’ idols is Robin van Persie, and the youngster will learn a lot of good moves by watching the Dutchman closely.
Enes’ technical attributes are well advanced. His ball control, passing and first touch are world class. His combination of composure and finishing ability is great and he has an effective header as well but he needs to get better with aerial duels. Manchester City fans will realize as soon as they watch him that he is very sharp inside the box. He can smell opportunities and make runs to get to the best scoring position. He is a decent free kick taker as well, and works extra on his free kicks. Quite proficient in dead ball situations, he can make a name for himself as a great free kick taker.
There are few areas in which he has to improve in order to become the most complete young striker in the world. He is not the fastest player around and it hasn’t caused a lot of trouble yet but English football demands pace, and therefore, he’ll need to improve in that area. Secondly, his physical strength is sufficient for his age but further development is a must in the physical department. English football demands physical power and pace which he has to improve but one feels sure that he is already aware of this. Thus, he has every chance to cover his weaknesses. As mentioned earlier, his biggest strength is that he is a well educated boy and always tries to improve both as a person and a footballer which allows him to be aware of every weaknesses he has as a footballer.
What does the future hold?
I only have one doubt about his move to City. Manchester City – with the latest improvements made to their academy- are willing to play young players in the first team but they haven’t been able to implement it, yet. So far, they’ve signed mostly established players with a view to short term success. They are no United or Liverpool when it comes to turning young players into complete footballers. Only Aguero – although he was already a top player when he joined City – has improved immensely since 2011 with the Sky Blues and Raheem Sterling can develop into superstar with City. Therefore, is City the best place for Enes’ development? Time will tell but City won’t hesitate to spend big to bring players in. Maybe – let’s hope I’m wrong – this could have adverse effect on Ünal’s improvement. On the other hand, Enes Ünal can change the perception of Manchester City and he can be the first young starlet to break into the first team as a regular player after a long time.
If his development continues according to plan, he has every chance to become the best in the world. The attitude, talent and professionalism are all there for him to shine. He just needs a chance in the first team and a bit of luck! City may loan him to Belgium to help him to continue his development. It would be a good move for him as the Pro League is one of the best places for a youngster to improve and become a complete footballer. He’ll have more playing time and quality training sessions, something which can only quicken the development of this bright young player.
Written by Mert Conker