Bayern Munich are keen to sign Borussia Monchengladbach starlet Sinan Kurt, according to a Tuesday report from Rheinische Post (in German).
The 17-year-old is a versatile attacker who is already very advanced for his age. He recently played with the Gladbach first team in some end-of-season friendlies and is reportedly set to be named permanently to Lucien Favre's senior squad should he remain a Gladbach player next season.
Kurt's current contract expires in 2015, however, and the Rheinische Post report claims he is reluctant to commit his long-term future to Gladbach. Should they manage to land the Germany under-18 international, Bayern will be able to boast one of Germany's best talents from an exceptional class of 1996-borns.
Kurt is a versatile left-footed player, one who has been used on the left wing, as a supporting striker and as a lone center-forward with the Gladbach under-19s. Whether or not he'll eventually be able to play as a classic No. 9 at senior level will depend on how he physically matures, which will become clearer in the next few years. But for now he at least appears to have the technical ability to play in deep areas and the finishing quality of a forward.
By the statistical balance, Kurt is much more a scorer than a provider. The German-born Turk scored 16 goals and assisted three more in 24 appearances with the Gladbach under-19s in 2013-14. Kurt's shooting technique is already very refined, as demonstrated by this wonder-volley scored last August:
More recently, Kurt coolly netted another volley from a cross in a manner reminiscent of ex-Gladbach man Marco Reus:
In addition to his excellent shooting technique and accuracy, and in spite of his still immature frame, Kurt also has outstanding shooting power. Last August, just weeks after his 17th birthday, his shooting strength was clocked at 119km/hr.
By far the best example of Kurt's shooting ability in his young career is the second goal as part of a hat-trick he scored against the Israel under-18s in December. With the score 1-1, he dribbled forward and shot across his body from well outside the box, hitting the target just inside the right post:
Kurt is in many ways the prototype of the next generation of German forward. Like fellow 17-year-old Donis Avdijaj, of Schalke, as well as newly capped Germany international Kevin Volland, he isn't the typical one-trick pony like Stefan Kiessling or Mario Gomez. He can play in transition and create goals by not just heading in crosses (which despite his somewhat sleight stature, Kurt is quite adept in doing), but by dribbling into scoring position and scoring from distance.
Kurt gave a good representation of the range of his abilities in a match against Wuppertal in October, in which he punctuated a counterattack with an emphatic finish before curling in a second from a free-kick:
As illustrated in the many videos above, there is more to Kurt's skills than shooting. He's quick, has good close control and is adept in dribbling to evade defenders and create space to shoot on goal.
Football at under-19 level is a rather simplistic version of the game and Kurt has yet to be tested in the full breadth of areas where he'll need to excel in order to be a successful professional. But in the counterattack-heavy youth game, he is an elite talent.
The most obvious negative for Kurt is his age. He turns 18 in late July, but even at that age, he can't be expected to compete in a Bayern first team that includes Robert Lewandowski, Mario Gotze, Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery competing for a maximum of three positions between them.
Kurt could be a substitute at Gladbach or even a starter at a lesser Bundesliga side, but his minutes at Bayern would be limited. And even if Bayern's reserves manage to achieve promotion to the 3. Liga in the coming days, that level is still well below where Kurt can and ought to play next season.
In addition to his minimal usefulness in the short term and the personal risk he faces in potentially not having opportunity to grow, Kurt is somewhat of a risk for Bayern in that his natural position and the full extent of his versatility remain unknown. He could yet become a natural center-forward, one of the Sergio Aguero type. Or he could be best as a winger. Bayern will not know exactly what they have signed if they acquire Kurt this summer.
In terms of attributes on the pitch, Kurt perhaps is also somewhat lacking in terms of his playmaking qualities. Although prolific in and around the penalty box, he has a very low assists-to-goals ratio. Reus, the player to whom he's most compared, is much more balanced. The Dortmund man scored and assisted 23 goals apiece in 2013-14, and in his Bundesliga career has nearly as many assists (50) as goals (66).
Kurt's career is still in its infancy and he has a long way to go, in which time he may develop his passing and other aspects of his game. He is not even a professional as of yet and he will have to take great care in planning the next steps in his career. Bayern are wise to keep an eye on him, though. Although they missed out on Reus in 2012, they could yet sign the next super-talent of the Gladbach academy.