Following an impressive debut season with Bayer Leverkusen, Hakan Çalhanoğlu is being linked with a move to some of Europe’s bigger clubs.
But who is the Turkish playmaker and what does he bring to the table?
What position does he play?
Bayer Leverkusen’s German-born Turkey international, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, is a rising star in the German Bundesliga who is able to accommodate a range of attacking positions comfortably. An attacking midfielder, he is at his devastating best in the number 10 role behind the striker, using his vision and creativity to open up defences, but he can also be used out wide on either wing with his technical prowess and deadly delivery proving an invaluable asset to the teams he graces.
When did he first make name for himself?
The 21-year-old’s outstanding ability at free-kicks has drawn him to the attention of many. Some have compared him to arguably the best free-kick taker – famous Brazilian Juninho Pernambucano. Interestingly, Juninho made his name in Europe by beating Bayern Munich’s goalkeeper Oliver Kahn in 2003, who was at the time considered the best ‘keeper in the world. Çalhanoğlu mirrored this achievement recently by beating Manuel Neur with a wonderful dead ball strike against Bayern – the first direct free-kick the German shot-stopper had conceded since 2010.
How far can he go?
The playmaker has a great deal of talent and has been on many big club’s transfer radar having made a big impact at all the places he has played. His step up from relegation battlers Hamburg to Leverkusen has not been an issue, and, described as “the new Ozil”, if he keeps improving he may soon take a further step up. Manchester United are the latest to be linked – a club well versed in players with exceptional free-kick abilities – and with other top European sides monitoring him, his potential star status is rising swiftly.
What’s his best attributes?
His stunning free-kick ability really is something to behold, scoring some outrageous goals from great distances. The accuracy, power, and ability to completely embarrass some of the best goalkeepers in the German league is fantastic to watch and, naturally, his long range efforts apart from dead balls are also equally impressive. As a creative number 10, he has great vision and is a good passer of the ball, helping to provide goals through the middle as well as from pin-point crosses when pushed wide.
What does he need to improve?
Despite the impressive power of his free-kicks and long range shots, the strength and physicality of the youngster has been pointed out as a possible weakness. His athleticism is something that can easily be worked on to improve, especially if he makes a move to a more demanding division like the Premier League. Furthermore, having rapidly risen from playing in the third tier to the top division, a bit more time may be helpful in order to grow and progress at a steadier pace.