Why Arsenal shouldn’t push too hard for Berkay Ozcan

According to claims from Transfermarkt (h/t The Sun), Arsenal have reignited their interest in highly-rated Turkish playmaker Berkay Ozcan, who currently plies his trade with Istanbul Basaksehir. 

The Gunners were understood to be monitoring the attacking midfielder three years ago when he was at VfB Stuttgart in Germany. Ozcan had even admitted that a move to Arsenal in the future would be a dream come true for him. (h/t The Sun)

The Turkish international has caught the eye in the Champions League this season, having guided Istanbul Basaksehir to the Super Lig title while on loan last year. Ozcan’s growing reputation has catapulted him back on Arsenal’s radar, with the 22-year-old tipped to follow Mesut Ozil’s footsteps at the Emirates. 


Born in Germany, Berkay Ozcan rose through the youth ranks of VfB Stuttgart and made his professional debut in the second-tier during the 2016-17 season. He featured in the Bundesliga in the following campaign after helping his club secure promotion to the top-flight.

Ozcan, though, found his game time limited and mainly spent time with Stuttgart’s reserve side before joining Hamburger SV in the second-tier in January 2019. 

hungary v turkey uefa nations league scaled
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY – NOVEMBER 18: Adam Gyurcso of Hungary is challenged by Berkay Ozcan of Turkey during the UEFA Nations League group stage match between Hungary and Turkey at Puskas Arena on November 18, 2020, in Budapest, Hungary. (Getty Images)

The midfielder was loaned out to Istanbul Basaksehir last summer after making just 17 appearances for Hamburger during the second half of the 2018-19 campaign. Ozcan started 4 league games and made 15 substitute appearances as Basaksehir won the domestic title last term. 

The 3-cap Turkish international, who completed a permanent transfer this past summer, has featured 44 times for Basakseir in all competitions so far but is yet to register a goal or an assist.

Ozcan doesn’t look ready for the Premier League

Arsenal have endured a lacklustre start to the Premier League campaign and sit 15th in the standings with just 4 wins from 11 games. The Gunners have managed just 10 league goals so far, which ranks worst among all teams outside the current bottom-three in the division. That miserable scoring record clearly underlines how badly Mikel Arteta’s side have lacked creativity and firepower in the final third. 

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form has taken a complete downturn since signing his new contract. The Gabonese star has scored only twice in 11 league appearances this season so far, which represents a significant dip for a striker who bagged 22 goals in the PL last term.

That, coupled with the fact that regular wide attackers Willian, Nicolas Pepe and Bukayo Saka have shared two league goals among them, further explains Arsenal’s dismal goal tally.

istanbul basaksehir v manchester united group h uefa champions league scaled
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – NOVEMBER 04: Berkay Ozcan of Istanbul Basaksehir FK passes the ball whilst under pressure from Nemanja Matic of Manchester United during the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between Istanbul Basaksehir and Manchester United at Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadyumu on November 04, 2020, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

Arteta made a massive statement by excluding star playmaker Mesut Ozil from his PL squad for the season but the Gunners haven’t really been able to justify the German’s omission with their performances on the pitch.

The absence of a quality central attacking midfielder has come back to bite them hard, making it a no-brainer for the manager to seek reinforcements in that department when the market reopens in January.

To that end, however, Berkay Ozcan isn’t the sort of player Arsenal should be looking at. Despite his obvious potential, Ozcan has hardly done enough to justify his comparisons with a legendary footballer like Ozil.

The 22-year-old fits the bill in North London as a versatile midfielder capable of playing in box-to-box and attacking roles but his lack of end product means that he might not be the instant upgrade that the Gunners need. 

The Turk has drawn a complete blank in terms of goals and assists at Istanbul Basaksehir, which is certainly a red mark for a creative midfielder. Also, Ozcan is hardly a regular starter in his homeland, meaning it would be a massive ask for him to make the step up to a league as competitive as the Premier League. 

istanbul basaksehir v paris saint germain group h uefa champions league 1 scaled
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – OCTOBER 28: Berkay Ozcan of Istanbul Basaksehir rides the ball during the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between Istanbul Basaksehir and Paris Saint-Germain at Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadyumu on October 28, 2020, in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images)

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Arsenal already have promising homegrown midfield talents like Joe Willock and Emile Smith Rowe competing for places. Hence, bringing in another unproven youngster wouldn’t really help them solve their problems relating to lack of creativity, with Berkay Ozcan hardly representing an upgrade on the existing options at the Emirates.

Considering that the Gunners have been linked with quality attacking midfielders like Houssem Aouar, Yusuf Yazici and Dominik Szoboszlai in recent months, the club’s reported interest in Ozcan can certainly be taken with a pinch of salt.


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