Reports that Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace are interested in signing Ozan Tufan from Fenerbahce have raised plenty of eyebrows. Not just in the English capital, but in his homeland of Turkey, too.
According to Fotospor, Roy Hodgson’s high-flying Eagles have sent scouts to Istanbul to check up on Tufan’s progress for a rejuvenated Fener side who are fighting for supremacy again after a miserable year battling relegation. Fanatik states that representatives from Spurs were in attendance too during a Super Lig clash with Antalyaspor over the weekend.
Tufan, clearly, is catching the eye - and with good reason. At the age of just 24, he is a regular for one of the powerhouses of Turkish football and he has 45 international caps to his name too.
But life hasn’t always been plain sailing for a footballer who found himself at ‘rock bottom’ just a year ago.
“His time at Fenerbahce has been a little bit hit-and-miss. The issue is that he’s struggled a lot with weight gain. He got really chubby at Fenerbahce and he was one of the guys who was getting pointed at by frustrated fans,” Turkish football expert Kaan Bayazit told HITC.
“I believe they paid £7 million for him and that’s a lot of money for a Turkish club in the age of Financial Fair Play. You could compare that to a £60 million fee for Tottenham.”
Tufan was on the verge of joining Besiktas in 2015 but the Green Crocodiles decided against selling their prized asset to a bitter rival. Fenerbahce swooped in and nabbed the youngster from under the noses of their Istanbul neighbours. Initially, however, that £7 million fee looked like a colossal waste of money.
Rock-bottom to rejuvenation
“He had really hit rock-bottom a year or so ago. Fenerbahçe were ready to give him away for free. They offered Besiktas a little bit of money plus Tufan for Tolgay Arslan but Besiktas said ‘just give us the money’!" Bayazit adds.
Tufan made his name as a talented young right-back but, thanks to some astute coaching from current Turkey boss Senol Gunes at Bursaspor, he was transformed into one of the brightest box-to-box midfielders in the league, blessed with energy, an impressive passing range and a useful habit of popping up in the penalty area to score crucial goals.
Tufan has been a man reborn this season after finding form and losing pounds during a loan spell at Alanyaspor. His versatility should appeal to Roy Hodgson and Mauricio Pochettino, who are both short of options at right-back in particular.
But does Tufan have the natural talent to help lead Spurs into a bright new era?
“He is a threat on set-pieces, he’s strong and he’s good in the air so he gets on the scoresheet from time to time with his head. He’s a good passer and a decent shot from outside the box. He’s certainly interesting but by no stretch of the imagination is he a top level talent,” adds Bayazit, who describes Tufan as a confidence player who needs constant pushing from his coach.
“I don’t know whether he’s a Tottenham level player, he’s definitely a good footballer but he’s not exceptional by any means. He’s a good utility player. Crystal Palace is probably a better fit.”
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