Leeds could solve one of Marcelo Bielsa’s major problems at Elland Road by signing Fenerbahce midfielder Ozan Tufan this summer.
The Whites have been heavily reliant on Kalvin Phillips as the club’s sole, quality holding midfielder, and Robin Koch’s involvement in that role at the weekend against Brighton just highlighted the glaring lack of depth in that position.
And now, according to Turkish publication Fotomac (via Sport Witness), the Premier League side have got their sights set on Tufan, although they are set to face competition from the likes of Crystal Palace and Norwich City too.
Some of the big issues that has plagued Bielsa’s side this season, is the lack of cover for Phillips, and the real dearth of goals from central midfield, with the likes of Patrick Bamford and Raphinha having to shoulder much of the burden.
That issue with having no Phillips is something Leon Osman laid bare after Leeds’ 4-2 defeat at the hands of Arsenal earlier this year.
He said: “They didn’t know how to operate without him (Phillips). When they got into good positions, Kalvin Phillips is the one who dictates play. He passes the ball forward and he sits. We call it a quarterback position.
“You see Raphinha getting frustrated that they are moving it and they are playing a backwards pass. It’s nothing against Struijk, he is just a centre-back playing in those positions – they weren’t quite sure how to get around that in the first half.”
But in the versatile Tufan, Bielsa could plug two gaps with one move.
The Turkey international is capable of playing in holding midfield as he is playing further forward, and has this season, really added a goal-scoring touch to his game – in 34 league games for Fenerbahce, he’s scored five goals and provided a further nine assists (both of those totals are significantly higher than anything any of Leeds’ midfield options have produced this campaign).
Dubbed as “quality” by Turkey legend Emre Belozoglu, the 58-cap ace’s manager at Fenerbahce, Vitor Pereira, has lauded him with considerable praise, saying: “He still has a lot to learn and that is my job, but the world will soon have a central midfielder on the level of (Yaya Toure) on their hands.”
Comparisons with Premier League and Champions League great Yaya Toure is certainly a lofty comparison to make, but Tufan’s ability to break into the box and get onto the end of things is very much reminiscent of the Ivorian.
And, given that he averages more than one tackle, interception, shot, key pass and dribble per game in the Turkish Super Lig for Fenerbahce, Tufan has got the all-round midfield ability that Bielsa could desperately do with.