Why Mehmet Zeki Celik could add more depth to Tottenham’s backline
According to claims from Bleacher Report journalist, Dean Jones, on Twitter, Tottenham Hotspur are on the lookout for a new right-back heading into the January transfer window and they have identified Turkish star Mehmet Zeki Celik as a potential transfer target.
Zeki Celik has assisted twice in 13 Ligue 1 appearances for Lille this season, playing a key role in the club’s surge up to 3rd in the standings. The Turk also impressed in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, despite Christophe Galtier’s side bowing out of the competition after finishing at the bottom of Group H.
The 22-year-old rose through the youth ranks of Bursaspor in his homeland and carved out a reputation for himself at Istanbulspor in the Turkish second-tier before earning a move to the French top-flight with Lille in the summer of 2018.
The highly-rated right-back went on to enjoy a fruitful debut season in the Ligue 1 the last term, contributing with a goal and 5 assists in 34 appearances to guide Lille to a runners-up finish behind champions PSG and securing a place in the group stages of the Champions League.
Zeki Celik is yet to replicate his heroics from the previous campaign in the ongoing season but he has apparently done enough to attract interest from Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.
The North Londoners secured their places in the last 16 of the Champions League, despite suffering a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich on Matchday 6. The Lilywhites have won all but one of their Premier League fixtures under Mourinho so far and must continue their impressive resurgence heading into the weekend trip to Wolves.
To that end, the lack of depth at the back continues to be a nagging issue for the management team, with Spurs having failed to bring in a replacement following the departure of Kieran Trippier to Atletico Madrid this past summer.
Serge Aurier has caught the eye with a string of impressive displays in the Premier League under Mourinho, who has shown a lot of confidence in the Ivorian’s abilities at both ends of the pitch.
However, Spurs don’t have much quality beyond that, with academy graduate Kyle Walker-Peters struggling to live up to the expectations and Juan Foyth only a makeshift option in that role.
Furthermore, a defensive record of 23 goals conceded in 16 games lies testament to the club’s ongoing struggles at the back.
While a new centre-back to replace the out-of-contract duo of Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld continues to be a priority, the right-back is an area which is in some need of investment.
To put things into perspective, Tottenham’s links with Mehmet Zeki Celik certainly makes a lot of sense on paper.
Notwithstanding the fact that Celik’s Ligue 1 heroics hardly guarantee the same in the highly competitive atmosphere of the Premier League, the Turk still has plenty of time on his side to make significant adjustments to his game to make the step up to the English game.
Indeed, Zeki Celik is a player with loads of potential at he still has his best years ahead of him at 22. That he has already accumulated 14 caps for Turkey at the senior international level speaks volumes of the kind of progress he has made since his move to Lille and Tottenham have every reason to look at him as a good long-term prospect.
The Turkish international might not be an overwhelming upgrade on Aurier but Spurs might as well bring in Celik as an understudy to the former PSG star.
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Having said that, Tottenham should not hesitate to splash the cash on Lille’s Mehmet Zeki Celik during the mid-season trading period in January.