There have been sketchy reports floating around for a couple of days now that Tottenham Hotspur have had a bid accepted for a 19-year old Turkish attacker named Cengiz Ünder. That’s not unusual. Tottenham are perennially one of bat country’s stalking horses: a club that rando players from all over are linked to by ambitious agents that are either trying to drum up interest in their clients or pressure their current club for a better deal.
That, and the fact that the Turkish football media is notoriously awful, meant that we pretty much ignored this story and waited for a better source to emerge (or not).
So when the Times of London mentions it, that usually means it’s legit. The Times writes that Spurs have had an £8m bid accepted for Ünder, a player that has also been closely monitored by Manchester United. Turns out, he’s pretty good.
So who is he? Ünder plays for Turkish Super Liga side Istanbul Basaksehir, which you may recognize because it happens to be the landing spot for former Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Ünder appears to be one of the more promising Turkish talents to come through in recent years. The Times lists him as a striker, but he’s a left footed attacking midfielder who spent most of his time on the left flank for Basaksehir.
This season, Ünder had nine goals and seven assists for Basaksehir in all competitions in just under 3100 minutes of action, and helped take the club to a surprise second place finish in the Super Liga, just four behind Turkish powerhouse Besiktas, and nine above Fenerbahce. This means they’ll play in the Champions League qualification playoffs next season. Ünder also already has two caps for the Turkish senior national team.
Ünder was also listed as a “weekly wonderkid” last February by UEFA.com.
Since very few people have actually heard of this kid, let’s take you now to the requisite YouTube highlight video replete with god-awful techno music.
Granted, the Turkish league isn’t the Premier League, and highlight videos can be problematic at best, but it’s not difficult to see why Spurs and United might be interested in Ünder. From what I can tell, he’s got quite a bit of flair in him, good attacking instincts, and based on the quality of some of those goals, an absolute rocket of a left foot. What we don’t yet know is whether he tracks back, whether he can press, or if he’s any better right now than any of Spurs’ first choice options. But at first blush, he looks like the kind of young player that could thrive in Mauricio Pochettino’s system.
It’s also important to point out here that having a bid accepted is not the same thing as landing the deal. In fact, Basaksehir president Göksel Gümüşdağ (yes, I copied and pasted that, shut up) has denied that the deal is done, and if United wants Ünder bad enough they can always try and outbid Spurs.
The scuttlebutt on social media is that Adebayor convinced Ünder to pick Spurs over United, which feels a bit weird considering how things ended between Ade and Tottenham. But if that’s the case, Adebayor might have helped secure Spurs another exciting young talent, the kind of player that Spurs need to take chances on if they’re going to compete with their big-spending competitors in the Premier League.
That same Times article that talks about Cengiz also mentions that Spurs are now in the lead to land Fulham’s teenage left back Ryan Sessegnon, which is also super exciting news. Finding a way to land two young talents under the noses of United and Liverpool would be a great way to start the offseason.