According to reports originating in Turkey, Chelsea are interested in a move for 20-year-old Feyenoord midfielder Orkun Kökçü this summer.
Blues legend Didier Drogba has reportedly been involved in discussing a move with the youngster, who has been tracked by the club for over a year, and will star for Turkey at this summer's Euros.
Kökçü, who is valued at €12 million by TransferMarkt, represents an interesting and exciting midfield profile - and has had a number of impressive seasons in the Eredivisie, having also been linked with Roma and Arsenal.
What kind of player is Kökçü, and what role could he potentially have at Stamford Bridge if a transfer move materialises?
Career to Date
Kökçü was born in the Netherlands to Turkish parents, and joined the Feyenoord academy at the age of 14, which has also produced Georginio Wijnaldum and Stefan de Vrij. After making the bench towards the end of the 2017/18 campaign, Kökçü broke into the first-team the following season, scoring three and assisting four in 11 league games.
Kökçü primarily played as a conventional central midfielder, as well as featuring in an attacking ‘Number 10’ role, and also on the left. He continued his upward trajectory into the 2019/20 campaign - scoring three and assisting six in all competitions, including assists in the Europa League versus Rangers and FC Porto.
Kökçü quickly became a crucial member of the Feyenoord squad at the age of 18, only missing three league games, and playing the full 90 in 13 of 26 league games. In April 2019, he extended his contract until 2023 - this was extended again in June last year until 2025.
Kökçü had another fine season last year despite Feyenoord finishing 5th and failing to qualify from their Europa League group, scoring four and assisting three in 31 games. Although he missed nine games with an ankle injury and COVID-19, Kökçü finished the season in strong form, and will hope to carry this into Turkey’s Euros campaign, where he made his debut versus Serbia last September.
Style of Play
After experimenting in an advanced midfield role and out on the left in previous seasons, Kökçü established himself last season as a traditional ‘box-to-box’ player. Under coach Dick Advocaat, Feyenoord lined up with a 4-3-3 in the vast majority of league games.
With ex-Swansea midfielder Leroy Fer deployed as the deepest ‘anchor’, Kökçü plays on the left of a midfield three - allowing him to positionally express himself centrally too. This can be seen in his heat-map for last season - covering a lot of ground and impactful in attacking areas:
Kökçü can effectively be viewed as a ‘complete midfielder’ - proficient in a number of different aspects of the game. His work-rate and energy has been compared to Youri Tielemans, whilst his high levels of technicality has drawn comparisons to David Silva.
Kökçü's style of play can be analysed in four different aspects - passing, goal and shot creation, defense, and in possession.
In terms of passing, Kökçü averages an 86% completion rate - this increases to 91% for passes in his own half. Kökçü also averages a very impressive 6.56 progressive passes per 90, this is in the top 9% for midfielders in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues, whilst his 1.95 passes into the penalty area per 90 is in the top 3%.
As well as a strong passing ability, Kökçü is able to convert this into chances for the Feyenoord attackers. Kökçü averages 2.83 shot-creating actions per 90, in the top 14% of European midfielders. For comparison, Mateo Kovacic averages 2.40 shot creating actions per 90. In a team with more clinical attackers, Kökçü’s assists are likely to increase to reflect this.
Whilst defensive contributions aren’t a big part of Kökçü’s game, his tackles and pressures in the final third specifically remain very solid. He averages 0.53 tackles in the final third per 90, in the top 5%, and 4.78 pressures in the final third per 90, in the top 8%.
This intense, energetic, pressing-based style of play corresponds with Thomas Tuchel’s desired brand of football - winning the ball in advanced areas to quickly launch attacks and create chances.
Kökçü is also very comfortable when receiving the ball - competent with both feet and cool and composed in attacking areas. His average of 3.54 touches in the opponent penalty box per 90 is in the top 3%. Kökçü also averages 2.30 carries into the final third per 90 - this ranks in the top 11%.
Kökçü is excellent at linking defense to attack and creating space in tight midfield areas. Effectively, he can be compared to Mason Mount, although he still lags behind in a number of statistics such as expected goals and expected assists - this is to be expected however, as Kökçü is only 20 and yet to challenge himself in the Premier League or Champions League.
What next for Kökçü?
Kökçü will hope to continue to impress at this summer's Euros. He is the youngest member of the Turkey squad and faces a tough group with Italy, Switzerland and Wales.
If a move to Chelsea does materialise, Kökçü will be given pre-season to impress Tuchel, although the club have an abundance of midfield talent with Conor Gallagher, Ross Barkley and Ruben Loftus-Cheek all returning from loan. There is a high probability that Kökçü could leave on loan this summer if he signs for the Blues, in a similar deal to Malang Sarr last summer.
Regardless of any Chelsea move for Kökçü, he is certainly a player worth monitoring at the Euros with a bright future ahead.