Bayer Leverkusen’s Omer Toprak has established himself as one of the top centre-backs in Germany over the past few seasons, and now Premier League sides are preparing to battle it out for his signature.
With Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur all reported to be keeping close tabs on the £12 million-rated Turkish international, here are five facts fans should know about him.
1) German-born, Toprak began his professional career with SC Freiburg in 2008 after moving from local club FV Ravensburg at the age of 18, making 30 appearances during his debut season to help the then-second-tier side win promotion to the Bundesliga.
2) His career was almost derailed in June 2009, however, when he was involved in a serious go-karting accident which left him with life-threatening injuries.
Suffering severe burns, he required numerous skin grafts and treatment in specialist care, missing over four months of action, before being allowed to return to the pitch.
3) Going on to prove his top-flight credentials over the next 18 months, the 6ft 1 in stopper’s impressive performances earned him a reported €4 million switch to Leverkusen in the summer of 2011, where he has since become an integral part of the Champions League club’s line-up.
4) Opting to represent the birth-country of his parents, Turkey, at the full international level in September 2011, the former German Under-19 international has won 23 caps since his senior debut the following November, but began the recent Euro 2016 qualifying campaign in disastrous fashion when he was sent-off in the shock 3-0 defeat to Iceland in Reykjavik.
5) Despite putting pen to paper on a new deal until 2018 in January, United, Liverpool and Spurs are all understood to have scouted Toprak in recent weeks, and will be encouraged by reports that he is eager for a new challenge abroad.
Having played under Sami Hyypia for two seasons at the BayArena before his sacking in April, the 25-year-old earned the praise of the Liverpool legend on several occasions, his ex-manager telling the press in December: ‘Omer has been very good in the past few months and possesses all the qualities of a top-class central defender.
‘He's strong in the air, tough in the tackle, fast and good on the ball, but he can still improve and become more of an authoritative figure at the club.’