Feyenoord’s impressive youngster Orkun Kokcu is turning heads amid a possible £23million move to Arsenal.
Sportsmail revealed last week that the Gunners had bid for the 19-year-old, who is a product of Groningen’s youth academy, and joined Feyenoord to continue his development in 2014. He was only 17 when he made his debut for the Dutch giants in the KNVB Cup in September 2018, and scored on his Eredivisie debut later that year.
Kokcu has represented Dutch national youth teams, but now appears to be set on representing Turkey after playing for their U21s against England U21s last year. What sort of player is he and how will he fit in at Arsenal? Sportsmail has the answers.
What kind of player is he?
Kokcu is an exciting and creative attacking midfielder who likes to operate in the final third with the ball at his feet.
He is a strong dribbler and is able to unlock defences with precise passing, and can also score from distance. He is best suited to the No 10 role that has been filled by Mesut Ozil for so long at Arsenal.
In his breakthrough 2018-19 Eredivisie season, he scored three goals and managed four assist in just 11 games. This year he has scored another two goals and notched four assists in 22 league appearances.
And despite Feyenoord’s tough Europa League campaign this year, which saw them finish bottom, Kokcu caught the eye and registered two assists. European pedigree is important for Arsenal, who are currently in 9th place in the Premier League, fighting for a spot in Europe’s secondary competition next season, and harbouring hopes of a return to the Champions League sooner rather than later.
Who is he similar to?
Kokcu is not dissimilar from the man whose shoes he will likely be filling in Ozil, but the best comparison is to former Gunner Santi Cazorla.
Happy in possession and playing on the front foot, he can cut sides open with key passes or make use of space to shoot from distance.
Kokcu may need to improve his defensive attributes if he is to be a long term success but with defensive players providing the necessary protection, he can fulfill his potential and match the talents of the Spaniard.
Where will he fit in?
With many of Arsenal’s midfielders linked with an exit at the club, Kokcu would be able to stake a claim for a spot in central midfield. The teenager will be able to use his naturally attacking instincts and complement the likes of defensive midfielders Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka.
He will be well suited to the 4-3-3 formation that Mikel Arteta has favoured during his brief time in charge.
With two midfielders sitting behind and providing protection, he will have the opportunity and freedom to get forward and create, taking advantage of space in behind the central forward.
He likes to pivot around the edge of the box and switch the focus of attack, which will suit Alexandre Lacazette and Pepe in the wide channels.
Why do Arsenal want him?
Arteta is looking to rebuild his squad in his first summer transfer window as Arsenal boss – and is hoping to bolster his midfield.
He has shown his high standards since his arrival, disciplining both Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Matteo Guendouzi in his short time in charge so far. Kokcu also fits well with Arsenal’s youth policy, which has seen the likes of Bukayo Saka, Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Gabriel Martinelli given game time since Arteta’s arrival.
More importantly, he would make up for the lack of creative midfielders at the north London club, especially if Ozil is on the way out.
What’s been said about him?
When asked if he will fit in at Arsenal, Feyenoord manager Dick Advocaat was upbeat about his potential and responded: ‘I think he fits in everywhere’.
Former Celtic, Nottingham Forest and Netherlands striker Pierre Van Hooijdonk has also praised the youngster’s ability going forwards, saying: ‘His quality is, among other things, his scoring ability’.
Hooijdonk did admit, though, that a longer stay in his country of birth may do Kokcu well, giving him time to mature and develop as a player before switching to England.
When will he join?
The teen’s current contract at Feyenoord runs out in 2023 and they were keen to extend it, but it is believed Arsenal have opened negotiations ahead of making an offer of £23m, which would be hard to turn down.
Valencia, Sevilla and Real Betis are also keeping tabs on the future star, but a move to the Premier League could prove to be the most attractive offer.
Advocaat chose to stay tight lipped about speculation, saying: ‘It seems what I read [Arsenal’s interest] is true, but no one has yet come to Feyenoord [to make their interest clear]’.
If he does sign for the Gunners, it represents yet another a prodigious young midfielder in the Premier League to join the likes of Mason Mount and Phil Foden, who have shone when given the chance.