19 years of age is the Dutch-born Turkish International Orkun Kökçü, a young prospect that is rumoured to already be on the radar of big clubs such as Arsenal.
The young midfielder has started making first-team appearances at Feyenoord in the late half of last season. Since then, the Turkish player has secured a place in the starting lineup of Feyenoord, for which he has started a total of 21 times in this season’s 2019/20 Eredivisie already.
This scout report will look to break down his style of play and strengths into a tactical analysis of a number of categories representative of his field position and responsibilities.
Orkun Kökçü is primarily a central midfielder, part of the three players Feyenoord deploys in their preferred 4-3-3 system.
He fits the profile of a traditional box-to-box player, who can transition between the lines of attack of his team with dribbles and his passing skills, and who can threaten the goal of the opponent with his shooting.
At Feyenoord, he is tasked to fit the team’s tactics by supporting his teammates in possession, linking up with the back-line and advancing the ball towards the final third of the field when possible.
This job requires him to have great off-ball movement skills to receive passes, to be effective in his passing, and take advantage of opportunities to destabilise the defence. Further in this analysis, we will take a look at how he fares in completing those responsibilities.
Playing off the ball
One of the most precious traits a central midfielder can show is his positioning in space to turn himself into a passing option for his teammates.
This generally requires a developed sense of seeing pockets of space and moving to occupy them before the defence can.
In the example above, he lets the movement of his teammate determine the defenders to react by jumping towards Feyenoord’s half. He even points his hand as to indicate he will follow by dropping towards his goal to receive the ball.
And just at the last second, he breaks off and moves in the opposite direction and into the pocket of space created, away from pressure, where he can now receive the pass.
In this other example above, he moves into an advanced position, virtually a no. 10 role, to occupy the pocket of space between the lines of the opponent, and wait for the pass.
In the picture above, Kökçü sees his centre-back who has just received the ball is about to be pressured by an opponent, and he reacts by sprinting towards the open space near the sideline and pointing his hand to indicate his intention to his teammate.
He gets there quickly so his centre-back has enough time to pass the ball to him, and from that position, he advances the ball with a pass down the touchline.
A secondary, but just as important, trait of the position Kökçü plays is that of always being informed before receiving a pass. This allows the player to be aware of any pressure coming his way and plan his next move accordingly.
The 19-year-old already has developed this habit into his game. Whenever he gets ready to receive a pass, he can be seen quickly glancing over his shoulder for any markers nearby. He also knows how to adjust his body to the direction he intends to play the next pass into, which allows for a much better view of the field.
In the frame above, just as the ball is about to reach him, he opens his eyes towards the closest opponent. His body angle allows him to have a good view of the field in front of him, and he can spot any pressure that might come.
By acquiring an understanding of his opponent’s positioning, he knows the time he will have to complete his next move.
He follows the reception of the ball with a very impressive understanding of the angle between the two highlighted defenders.
He sees his left-back open down the touchline and he launches a beautiful through pass that travels past the lines of defence and between the two highlighted opponents and reaches his teammate in a great position to threaten.
The above example is a great starting point of showing some of Orkun Kökçü’s on-the-ball abilities, which we will begin to look at more in this next area of the scout report.
Playing on the ball
First and foremost, let’s look at Orkun Kökçü as a passer.
Through 2363 passes tracked so far at Feyenoord, the Turkish midfielder has an impressive accuracy of 90%. That number, for the 2019/20 season, drops to 84.2%, which would still recommend him as an accurate passer of the ball.
Kökçü’s key pass rate so far this year is of 3%. What this means, is that out of the total of passes played by the Feyenoord player, 3% of them assisted a teammate into taking a shot.
By itself, that number from above would hardly suggest the Turkey International to be a playmaker. However, Kökçü’s penalty area passing accuracy of 80.4% suggests that the young midfielder has a lot of potential to grow those numbers.
He is accurate in getting the ball to his teammates inside the opponent’s box, he simply doesn’t attempt enough of those passes. However, by taking into account his ridiculous accuracy and by watching him, it’s easy to draw the conclusion that, in time, he will be more decisive with his passing and those will eventually add up to a bigger number of key passes and assists.
Take the above picture, for an example. Kökçü is in a strange position on the field for him, inside the penalty box and near the goal line.
However, he uses the opportunity to display the type of playmaking potential he has to offer by pulling off a ridiculous pass.
Absolutely everything about this play is impressive. From the fact that he is able to spot his teammate through all the traffic, see the open space inside the middle of the box and understanding his teammate’s trajectory, to the fact that he realizes the goalkeeper’s position would prevent him from intercepting the cross.
The pass from Kökçü is accurate and it reaches the Feyenoord centre-forward all by himself inside the 6-yard penalty box. It’s almost impossible to believe the forward misses this huge chance, but this doesn’t take anything away from Kökçü’s merit of seeing and playing the pass in the first place.
9 times out of 10, that pass will turn into an assist on the scoreboard for the young Turkish player.
In the frame above, one of the centre-backs of the opponent is trying to trap Kökçü before he even receives the ball, by breaking out of the line.
However, the 19-year-old is informed, as usual, before receiving the pass. In the example shown, this allows the Feyenoord player to capitalise on the huge mistake of his opponent and using the angle presented to play the through pass between the defence.
Another important task of the position Kökçü is asked to fill is the continuous movement, even after passing the ball, to support teammates in the advancement of the ball.
Take the above image as an example of that need. Kökçü lets go of the ball, but his job is just now getting started. He smartly realizes he needs to continue running and get in a position to support his teammate.
He gets rid of his markers and positions himself to ease the job of his teammate, takes back the ball and is now in a great position to threaten the back-line of the opponent.
From there, he patiently uses the threat of him progressing with the football to set up the defence. He waits for the right angle and lets go of the through pass, cutting the field and reaching his teammate in a great position inside the penalty box.
Effective with the dribble
Orkun Kökçü is not the most flashy dribbler. He will not ridicule his opponents with crazy skill-showing, nor will he raise the people in stands as he megs defenders in his way towards the goal.
However, Orkun Kökçü is an effective dribbler. He averages 3.1 dribble attempts per 90 minutes played, and more impressively, he wins those duels at a 70.3% rate.
It undoubtedly helps that the 19-year-old has the perfect body type of a good dribbler. He measures only 1.75m in height, but what this means is that his lower centre of gravity puts him at advantage against most of his opponents.
He has great ball control, at times seeming as if the ball is somehow attached by a short string to his foot. He can be deceptively quick, and more importantly, he understands when to use his burst to maximize his quickness by catching opponents off-guard.
Take the above example. He receives the pass in space, but instead of securing it, he lets the ball go as he runs near it. He does so to smartly trap a defender into a slide tackle.
The tackle attempt comes, and just at the last moment, Kökçü uses his quickness to fool his opponent and break away safely with a lateral move.
In this other example, one of his teammates nearly commits a big error as he plays a poor pass for Kökçü that almost gets intercepted. The pass forces the Dutch-born midfielder to hurry back for the ball, with an opponent right in his face.
However, the Feyenoord midfielder displays, once again, his deceptive quickness as he sneaks by his opponent and making it look effortlessly.
The Turkish youngster, despite his age, also looks to master the use of an opponent’s momentum against him.
Just look at the example above. Using his quickness and speed to threaten the defence by advancing directly towards it, he traps his opponents trying to catch up into committing in that direction.
At the moment of his choosing, he stops and breaks away laterally. This move forces not one, but two defenders to run themselves out of position. One of them even loses his footing and drops to the ground.
Another characteristic the young Kökçü has developed into his game is the use of subtle, but effective, fake moves to help move his opponents in the direction he wants them to and use their momentum against them.
Consider this example above. Right before settling to receive the pass, he glances over his shoulder, sensing one of the defenders is nearby and trying to understand the proximity to that opponent.
Just as the ball reaches him, Kökçü intentionally plants his left foot hard in the ground. This move makes the defender on his tail to believe a first-touch pass heading backwards will come, and the Vitesse player sprints to be there when it reaches Kökçü’s teammate.
However, the Turkish 19-year-old never intended to play the pass. Instead, he lets his opponent overrun in his pursuit of the ball, as he breaks off in the complete opposite direction, heading towards the penalty box.
By nature, Kökçü’s position in the midfield of Feyenoord will force him into taking more low-xG shots, often outside of the box.
Even in his more attacking profile, he will often be asked to settle for the outside-the-box shots, where he can display his shot accuracy.
The above image is a graphical representation of pitch distribution of all the shots taken by the Turkish midfielder at Feyenoord.
His area of choice is the left half of the surface at the edge of the box. He has taken 26.5% of his shots from that spot.
From that same area he has recently scored a screamer from, against Utrecht, showing exactly the kind of danger he’s capable of inflicting even from less dangerous areas of the pitch.
Frames won’t do that goal justice, but if you’re not going to take my word for it, just google it – I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
In terms of accuracy, Kökçü naturally suffers from the shot-selection offered by his position on the field. His goal conversion rate of 12% is nothing impressive by itself, if failing to take into account the high number of low-xG shots the 19-year-old takes.
Kökçü’s on-target rate, however, is a more impressive figure of 57%. This goes to prove that despite the so far limited number of goals scored, the Feyenoord youngster offers plenty of potential as a shot-taker. This trait helps complete the profile of Kökçü as a dangerous box-to-box attacking midfielder.
Even more impressively, he can shoot the ball with both feet. So far in the 2019/20 Eredivisie season, he maintains a 29:10 ratio of shots taken with his strong foot, his right one, compared to the number taken with the opposite foot.
Still at a young age of merely 19 years, it’s clear that Feyenoord’s Orkun Kökçü is not yet a finished prospect.
However, it’s undeniable that he checks most of the boxes asked for a player of his profile and therefore easy to believe he has already turned into a transfer target for a club like Arsenal or Everton.
This analysis intended to break down Kökçü’s play into certain specific areas for the position he plays. While we can’t know for sure what the future holds for the young Turkish football player, as proven by the breakdown of this scout report, it’s safe to say that his name is one we need to start paying more attention to.