Ozan Tufan is not a name many football fans would be familiar with. He is a 24-year old Turkish midfielder who played in the Turkish Süper Lig for Alanyaspor last season, on loan from Fenerbahce. This tactical analysis will attempt to showcase his strengths and weaknesses, and why he is an interesting player to look out for in the future.
Career thus far
Tufan began his career in Bursaspor’s youth teams, making his first-team debut in the 2012/13 season. He established himself in the Bursaspor squad in the 2014/15 season, making 46 appearances across all competitions and earning a move to Fenerbahce the following summer. He also made his debut for the Turkey national side that season, and has gone on to play 41 times for his country. Tufan was loaned out to Alanyaspor for the 2018/19 season, and while he only made 19 appearances for the club, there were enough glimpses of his talent for Fenerbahce to recall him for the start of next season.
Ozan Tufan is a central midfielder, but one who is comfortable playing in both attacking and defensive roles. His heat map for the season demonstrates this –
Passing ability is the most important attribute for a central midfielder, and while Tufan struggles with regard to pass completion rates, this is also because he usually attempts ambitious and attacking passes. The statistics bear this out – according to Whoscored.com, Tufan had a pass success rate of 79.7% last season, which is bang average for a central midfielder. However, he also made 1.2 key passes per game, which is excellent for a player in his position. Tufan usually played as a central playmaker, looking to create opportunities for his forwards –
However, there is a weakness to his game with regard to passing – his penchant for flamboyance. Tufan will often attempt a backheel or a disguised pass when a simple, run-of-the-mill pass would suffice, and more often than not this results in him losing possession. While his courage and confidence are praiseworthy, he needs to learn when and where to use such tricks in order to maximize their effectiveness in order to become a better player.
As mentioned previously, Tufan can play in both attacking and defensive roles in midfield. While used as a playmaker at Alanyaspor last season, he also played as the deepest midfielder for Turkey in their Euro 2020 qualifiers –
He has the ability to drift forward and link up with his forwards, and even go out to the flanks to support attacks from out wide –
Another weakness to his game is his own attacking output. While he excels as a playmaker, a return of zero goals last season tells its own story.
This is an area of the game where Tufan is unusually strong for someone with his role and skill-set. Whoscored.com statistics reveal that the midfielder made 1.4 tackles, 1.1 interceptions and one clearance per game last season, which are strong numbers for someone not playing in a defensive role. His intelligence in defensive situations can be seen from the images below –
These statistics and images show that Tufan’s future may actually be as a defensive midfielder, playing as the pivot in a three-man midfield from where he can dictate play as well as protect his defence.
Ozan Tufan has yet to burst into the spotlight but has quietly made his name in Turkey’s footballing circles. He is a regular for his national side and having returned to his parent club ahead of the 2019/20 season, a strong showing could result in him gaining a place in the starting XI for Fenerbahce and even a move to a bigger club. While there are notable deficiencies in his game, he is still young enough to be able to iron those out and become a consistent performer for both club and country.
It is worth keeping an eye out for this Turkish midfielder next season.
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