After a disappointing opening defeat to Croatia, Turkey have it all to do in their remaining group fixtures but here are five players who can turn the country’s fortunes around in France.
The future of Turkish football, and that belief is only emphasised by the nickname of the ‘Turkish Messi’. Emre More further cemented his status as the bright young thing for the Turks when he secured a move to Borussia Dortmund for next season. The midfielder is an all-action, midfield live wire, possessing incredible speed and dribbling ability. Mor’s a player that loves to be on the ball and make things happen. Despite his tender years – he’s just 18 and doesn’t turn 19 until July – there are growing calls for Mor to feature heavily at this tournament. He’s a direct player who enjoys his football, and that shows not he field as he looks to beat opponents with trickery or just simple penetrative running. One to watch for now, and in the future.
If Mor is the future of Turkish football, then Hakan Çalhanoğlu is certainly the present. Relatively young himself at just 22-years-old, the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder is looking to take more responsibility in this Turkey team. He has become something of a set-piece specialist for both club and country due to his trademark rifle-like shot, but there is far more to the player that once scored a spectacular 50-yard effort against Borussia Dortmund. Çalhanoğlu has a fine passing range, and ability to move up and down the field with ease, keeping the flow of the game going for his team. He can deliver an assist, but he can also break down opponents’ play, and as he showed in the Champions League this term is able to mix it amongst the big boys.
A man with a Premier League past, despite still only being 23. Özyakup was snapped up by Arsenal in his youth, before leaving for Besiktas in 2012. Since then he’s gone on to establish himself as one of the brightest talents in Turkish football, and was vital as Besiktas nailed down a league title this past season. He was a key component in the midfield, contributing 10 goals and 8 assists from his midfield and attacking roles. Özyakup is a force playing just off the attack, giving the forward line creative output and also joining them from time to time. He has become a regular in the Turkey XI, becoming a huge favourite of notoriously difficult to please coach Fatih Terim. Expect him to be a cornerstone of any Turkish success in France.
A pure box-to-box dynamo, Ozan Tufan is a midfielder that packs plenty of dynamism. Capable of pulling the strings in midfield with his simple, effective passing range, but also an energetic presence both in front of his defence and supporting his own attack. Tufan could be one of the breakout names in tournament given that he’s a virtual unknown outside his country. At just 21-years-old there is still much for the player to work on, but he’s already shown this past season he’s capable of controlling a midfield. With more senior members present it’s likely he won’t do that so much in France, but expect his tireless work ethic to be a feature of Terim’s side.
A player that is playing his way into contention for Terim. A few months ago it seemed unlikely that Cenk Tosun would start, but now the Turkish coach is convinced the Beşiktaş man is the answer. Tosun has found it difficult to break into the team at club level given the presence of Mario Gomez, but his goalscoring feats in the lead-up to the tournament leave him set to lead the line for Turkey. He will need plenty of support from his midfield however, given his lack of pace. He can hold the ball up, but he’s certainly more of a poacher finisher. If Turkey’s creative powers can gel, then Tosun could well be an outside bet for top scorer.