With the summer transfer window approaching, Erik ten Hag is set to begin the next phase of his Manchester United rebuild. According to reports, the Dutchman is targeting a new striker, a central midfielder, and possibly a new goalkeeper should the budget allow it. With Ten Hag looking to bolster his midfield this summer, United have been linked to numerous midfielders in recent weeks including Feyenoord captain Orkun Kökcü.
Date of Birth: 29/12/2000 (22)
Position: Central Midfield
Strong Foot: Both
Height: 1,75 m (5ft 7in)
Who is Orkun Kökcü?
Orkun Kökcü is a 22-year-old central midfielder currently plying his trade in the Eredivisie at Dutch giants Feyenoord. Kökcü joined Feyenoord in 2014 as a youngster from FC Groningen. Over the years, Kökcü has developed into a quality player and is now one of Feyenoord’s most important players in the heart of Arne Slot’s midfield. Feyenoord are now on the verge of winning the Eredivisie title this season and Kökcü has played a massive role in that.Embed from Getty Images
Having enjoyed nearly 9 years in Rotterdam, the Feyenoord and Turkey midfielder looks set to take the next step in his career this summer. According to various reports, Manchester United are closely monitoring Kökcü’s development ahead of the summer transfer window. It’s reported that other Premier League clubs are tracking the midfielder and Portuguese giants Benfica are also said to have an interest in the player.
StrengthsEmbed from Getty Images
Orkun Kökcü is exactly the type of midfielder that Erik ten Hag needs to sign this summer. One thing that Manchester United lack is a midfielder who’s good in the first phase of build-up, and this is why Ten Hag was so desperate to sign Frenkie de Jong last summer as that’s where the Barcelona midfielder specialises. Because of United’s lack of a first-phase midfielder, United sometimes struggle to progress the ball forward from deeper positions. However, Kökcü would solve this issue. The midfielder is extremely good at dropping deep to collect the ball from the defence and progressing it forward.
Kökcü is an incredibly progressive midfielder. So far during the 2022/23 Eredivisie season, Kökcü 2.97 progressive carries per 90 and an incredible 12.14 progressive passes per 90, which ranks him amongst the most progressive midfielders in Europe. In the Eredivisie this season, the Turkish midfielder has also averaged 10.30 passes into the final third per 90 and 2.44 carries into the final third per 90. He has also completed 55% of his dribbles in the Eredivisie this season which shows he’s relatively press resistant.
Kökcü is also an extremely creative player. So far in the Eredivisie this season, he has averaged 2.97 key passes per 90 and also created 78 chances, the most by any Feyenoord player. The 22-year-old is also a goal threat having found the back of the net on 12 occasions so far this season in all competitions.
WeaknessesEmbed from Getty Images
As good as Kökcü is on the ball and going forward, the defensive side of his game isn’t the best. While this won’t be a problem in games where United dominate possession, it will be in games against higher-quality teams when United don’t have as much of the ball. Erik ten Hag has had this issue with Christian Eriksen too this season. As good as the Danish midfielder has been since joining United on a free transfer this summer, in games where United haven’t had much possession, he’s often been a passenger and contributed very little.
Kökcü is exactly the type of player United need in possession, but his ability out of possession is a concern and it’s something that Ten Hag will need to help him improve should he sign the Feyenoord captain.
Where would Orkun Kökcü fit in at Manchester United?Embed from Getty Images
Should Orkun Kökcü join Manchester United this summer, he would likely play in a midfield three with Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes. Kökcü’s job would be to drop deep, take the ball from the defence and progress it forward. He’d also add another creative outlet and he’d also pose a goal threat.
With someone like Kökcü in midfield, a player who excels in the first phase of build-up, United’s build-up structure will massively improve, and it would hopefully help United control games better, meaning they’d also create more chances. Kökcü’s ability to drop deep and progress the ball up the pitch would help United play out of the back far better and that would limit the amount of long goal kicks United take, which often just leads to United just losing possession again in the middle of the pitch.
While there are concerns over his ability out of possession, Orkun Kökcü is certainly the type of player United need in possession, and he’d significantly improve Erik ten Hag’s side.
It is still unclear exactly what type of midfielder Erik ten Hag wants to sign this summer. While it’s extremely clear United need a midfielder like Kökcü who can drop deep and help with build-up, United also seem to have a serious interest in Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister. While the Argentine midfielder is decent in phase one of build-up, he is more of an advanced no.8 or no.10. It has also been reported that Ten Hag is keen on Jude Bellingham, and as amazing as the Dortmund midfielder is, he is also not the best in deeper positions and generally excels higher up the pitch.
Ten Hag could potentially sign a player like Mac Allister and use him in the attacking midfield role. This would likely see Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes drop into a deeper role. While Fernandes has performed there very well when used there this season, there are question marks over whether that is his best position in the long-term.
Ultimately, it’s up to Ten Hag on how he wants to build his midfield but it’s so important that he gets it right and signs the right player. United need to start controlling games consistently and whoever the new midfielder is will have to play a big role in doing that.