A New Generation of Cardiac Kids: The 10 Hottest Football Talents from Turkey
Turkey captured the hearts of football fans around the world with their inspiring semifinal run at EURO 2008. Three years later, new talents have emerged and some have begun cementing starting eleven spots.
Here is a list of the 10 best talents in and outside of Turkey who will look to make a name for themselves in the run-up to World Cup qualifying.
10: Sercan Yildirim
Once considered one of the best talents in all of the world, Yildirim hasn't come near the initial expectations laid upon him. Although possessing blistering pace, the forward lacks finishing skills and coaches still aren't sure if he plays in the hole, on the wing or up front.
Until he matures mentally, he won't cement a place in the starting eleven for his country. However, he has looked decent for his new side Galatasaray this season. A move abroad, particularly Spain, would benefit him greatly.
9. Batuhan Karadeniz
In the youth leagues, he was a man amongst boys. Now in the top-flight, the once imposing forward is a petulant harbinger of bad press. He has all the tools to become one of the best strikers in the world, but has lacked the mental capacity to be a professional.
On the national level, he has 60 goals in 77 matches, an incredible goal to game ratio at any level. His ratio with the senior Besiktas and Eskisehirspor squads haven't come near, but he has shown he can bag at almost a goal every other game rate.
As I mentioned before, he must mature mentally by leaps and bounds. Only then, will he reach some of his potential, a ceiling that is tremendously high.
8. Alper Potuk
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The first non-forward on the list, Alper Potuk is a youth international who has already claimed a starting midfield position at his club Eskisehirspor.
Unlike his club teammate Batuhan Karadeniz, Potuk possesses good mental skills and combines them well with his slightly frail frame. Despite lacking muscle, Potuk is a tidy ball winner who can also contribute to the offensive phase of the game.
Outside of Mehmet Topal, Turkey have no good ball winners. Because is Topal injured so often, Potuk will need to step up and show he can play with the senior squad.
With another year or two of experience, nothing is impossible for the youngster from Bolvadin.
7. Ozgur Cek
The Turkish Roberto Carlos?
Perhaps it's too early to give this former Fenerbahce product the hefty label, but he is the most exciting wingback to emerge through the ranks in some time. Turkey have been known to produce good wingbacks in past years and Ozgur Cek looks to be next in line.
Cek is the complete package when it comes to mental and physical ability, and he has a rocket of a left foot to boot. If he picks up good defensive skills over the coming years, he can make the left back position his, a spot that has been hard to fill since the retirement of Ergun Penbe and Hakan Unsal.
6. Gokay Iravul
Another Fenerbahce product, Gokay Iravul is being looked at as the heir apparent of Emre Belozoglu at club and international level. The small deep-lying playmaker still has a lot to learn, but he has shown great maturity as Aykut Kocaman has slowly eased him into first team football.
Physically, Iravul possesses good pace and a high level of stamina, but lacks muscle and grit. Until he beefs up, he will have a hard time dropping back to win balls in order to start attacks.
Since Turkey and Fenerbahce generally don't use a dedicated ball winner in front of the defensive line, Gokay will need to acquire these abilities if he wants to start alongside the likes of Nuri Sahin and Emre in the senior squad. If he does, however, he will be quite the force.
5. Tunay Torun
The first of three German-Turks in this list, Tunay Torun is gifted in both the physical and technical departments. Built like a linebacker, Torun can weave through defenses and hammer in a stunner, as evidenced in the attached video.
Torun is able to play all across the front line. After failing the break into the HSV first team, Torun signed a contract with Hertha Berlin, scoring two goals in his first seven appearances for the capital club.
If he keeps it up, Turkey will have found the answer for their right wing conundrum. Or their new second striker. Or target man.
Torun can do it all.
4. Jem Karacan
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Another box-to-box midfielder, Karacan is already a fan-favorite at Reading and has captained the Turkey U-21 side. Further along in his development than Alper Potuk, Karacan has the ability to play from the back of midfield all the way up to the front.
With his defensive abilities better than those of Gokay Iravul's, I see Karacan getting his first cap before his junior teammate, and in the long-run has a better chance of becoming a starter in the senior squad.
He helped bring Reading to the brink of promotion to the Premier League, and if he can help them make the grade this season, he will gain invaluable experience playing in the top-flight. That experience gives him potential to be one of the best players in the Turkey senior squad.
3. Gokhan Tore
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A former regular with the Chelsea Reserves, Tore is one of the biggest talents in the world.
Although unable to make the first team at Chelsea, Tore has moved to Tunay Torun's former club, HSV, where he has become a starter. Tore is able to play anywhere across the front line and top clubs will undoubtedly keep an eye on the exciting product this season.
I only hope Chelsea included a buy-back-option in his transfer terms.
2. Mehmet Ekici
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Mehmet Ekici is the most complete player on this lists, having started for the national squad several times in the last few months.
He and fellow German-Turk Ilkay Gundogan helped lead FC Nuremberg to a surprising sixth place finish in the past edition of the Bundesliga. The impressive season earned him a move to Werder Bremen, who see him as the next Mesut Ozil.
Ekici indeed possesses immense talent like Ozil, but is also able to contribute deeper and can be seen as a mold between Real Madrid teammates Nuri Sahin and Ozil.
With another year of experience there is no reason Ekici shouldn't be starting for the Turkey senior squad. He might even earn a transfer to a bigger club.
Most complete player, yet he's not No. 1 on the list? You might think I'm crazy, but the No. 1 talent on this list has an even bigger ceiling than Ekici.
1. Muhammed Demirci
Muhammed Demirci is perhaps the most hyped player in the history of Turkish football.
At the age of 13 he was being compared to Ronaldinho, while in the last few years he has been called the "Turkish Messi." Barcelona were rumored to have made inquires for the classic playmaker this past summer.
Although he is perhaps the most raw talent out of the top five listed, he has the highest potential. Which is the reason why he's listed ahead of Ekici and Tore. There isn't much to say now, but the future looks bright for this youngster from the Besiktas academy.