Çağlar Söyüncü: The Turkish Rock
Emre Mor, Cengiz Ünder, Enes Ünal, the future of the Turkish national team looks bright with a plethora of talent. That’s without mentioning Leicester City’s new signing Çağlar Söyüncü.
The young defender was solid for SC Freiburg in 2017/18 and his fine form in the Bundesliga captured the attention of some of Europe’s elite teams. The likes of Manchester City, Roma and Arsenal were all rumoured to be interested in the Turkish talent, yet the Foxes managed to get him to put pen to paper just before the end of the Premier League transfer window.
Çağlar Söyüncü spent his youth career in his native Turkey with lesser known teams to the rest of Europe. After spending 5 years at Menemen Belediyespor, he joined Bucaspor and eventually Gümüşorduspor. At this point, no scouts were considering or even monitoring the boy from Izmir, so he joined second-tier Turkish side Altinordu in 2014 to kick-start his senior career.
He began playing for the senior team at the age of 18, suggesting he was ahead of his time and certainly showed it. 4 appearances in his first season gave the youngster a taste of football (see what we did there!) at senior level. Yet it was 2015/16 where he rose to prominence and began to attract suitors from top-flight teams.
Söyüncü made 30 appearances in the league whilst also contributing to two goals in the process. His composure on the ball as well as his confidence in central defence helped his side achieve a 10th place and comfortably secure their place in the division. This tier of football was clearly below Söyüncü’s level and clubs from Europe knew that.
Turkish giants Besiktas and Galatasaray as well as Spanish side Sevilla were linked with moves for the Turkish U21 international. However, the promising defender chose the Bundesliga as his next destination specifically SC Freiburg, the ideal location for his development.
Having recently been promoted, the German side required a strong defence to remain in the division, which had been improved by Söyüncü. For his first season in top flight football, the defender made a respectable 25 appearances in all competitions. He kept 4 clean sheets, all 4 in crucial victories against Frankfurt, Wolfsburg, Darmstadt and Mainz. This proved his ability to perform in big games and allowed his side to comfortably remain in the Bundesliga with a very impressive 7th place finish.
Söyüncü was rewarded in 2017/18 with a starting role in the side’s campaign. He started the season in brilliant fashion, keeping a clean sheet in a goalless draw against German giants Borussia Dortmund. After another clean sheet against Werder Bremen, he scored his first goal for Freiburg against Hoffenheim, proving to be vital in their 3-2 victory.
However, the Turk was sent off twice in the season against Stuttgart and Hamburg, both resulting in losses highlighting that despite his quality, he is prone to making mistakes occasionally. He ended the season with 30 appearances in all competitions and 6 clean sheets, a respectable tally for the young talent. Halfway through the season, he was receiving interest from Lille, Roma, Villarreal and even Manchester City. However despite these admirers, he has ended up in the midlands with Leicester City signing for £19 million.
Style of play:
The 15 time capped Turkish international stands at 6ft 2 inches and certainly has a strong physical presence. However coupled with his stature, he is also a quick defender that is confident with the ball at his feet, essential in today’s modern game. This is shown by the fact Söyüncü completed on average 43.9 passes per game and has shown his willingness to dribble out of defence with the ball. Furthermore, alongside being capable offensively, the former Freiburg defender also has key defensive attributes. Last season he made an impressive 2.1 interceptions per game and 1.6 tackles per game, figures you would want from your starting central defender. However, Söyüncü is certainly not the finished article with a tendency to make the odd mistake, inevitable with his willingness to dribble with the ball. Discipline is also an issue, shown by the fact he was sent off twice last season for poor tackles.
Regardless, the 22 year old has plenty of time to develop and improve into a formidable defender at the King Power. He has huge potential alongside his physical attributes and is the ideal replacement for Robert Huth in the Leicester defence. The fact Manchester City were linked with him is a testament to the abundance of talent he has and Leicester fans certainly have a lot to look forward to with their new signing for the 2018/19 season.