‘Orkun Kökçü may soon be worth fifty or sixty million’

Wednesday, June 8, 2022 at 11:00• Justus Dingemanse • Last update: 11:02

Spoke before the kick-off of the 2019/20 season Football zone in collaboration with adidas with four of the biggest talents on the Dutch fields. In these interviews, the pledges looked back on their early career and carefully placed a dot on the horizon under the guise #DareToCreate† Just under three seasons later, what has become of their great ambitions and sky-high expectations? In 1001 night later viewing Football zone whether the men’s plans were accurate predictions or rather sultry fairy tales. In part three of this four-part series: Orkun Kökçü, the raw jewel that charted a balanced route to the top.

By: Kevin van Buuren & Justus Dingemanse

“I have often heard that I would not make it,” says an eighteen-year-old Kökçü to the VZcamera from back then. He ended up in the youth of FC Groningen because he always kicked a ball there with his brother, until they could no longer ignore the fanatical duo. At the age of fourteen he ended up at Feyenoord. “The most important thing is to be patient and believe in what you can do.”

The moment he fulfills his dreams Football zone announces, he has already made his debut for Feyenoord. “I hadn’t counted on it,” he says of that moment. “I think that has helped. I suddenly had to stand there, so I could actually play football freely.” His first minutes were an instant success. “A goal and an assist, it’s better not to roll into the Eredivisie,” he smiles.

Orkun Kökçü in action for Feyenoord Under-17

He wants to be a permanent fixture for the 2019/20 season. The first signs of this have already been shown in advance: Kökçü may sign a new contract with the Rotterdam club at the beginning of 2019. “I want to yield at least twenty million for Feyenoord. Then to Germany. From there to the Spanish league and then I hope to end up at a top club.” But first it is time for the youth international of Orange to fulfill his promise and show why Feyenoord brought him to the club as a young player.

For Dutch fans, Kökçü ended the previous season somewhat disappointing. Not because of his performance, but because the Turkish-Dutch midfielder announced in July 2019 that he wanted to play for Turkey. The youngster comes under criticism, as he went through all the youth teams of Orange from the age of sixteen. He himself speaks of a well-considered choice: “Frenkie de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum, who will play them out in the coming years?” he wonders aloud. Nevertheless, he understands that the ‘moral obligation to choose the Netherlands’ is imposed on him.

Orkun Kökçü in action for the Dutch Juniors

But, also for a selection in the Turkish national team – he will play with Turkey Under 19 for the first time in September – Kökçü must first put himself in the spotlight at his club Feyenoord. Then trainer Jaap Stam, who replaced Giovanni van Bronckhorst, mainly uses the Turkish talent as a basic player, often in an attacking role in midfield. He doesn’t hold on to the promising return of his debut match – Kökçü scores once in the first half of the competition – but his hard shot, short passing and small turning circle make the right foot seem like a born number 10.

After a big loss against Ajax, Stam resigns after a few months. An exciting moment for a young player like Kökçü: does the new coach see it in him? Fortunately, we immediately clicked with Dick Advocaat, who was recruited as Stam’s successor: “He shows that he has confidence in me. He is hard and clear and teaches me like no other how to switch.” It’s up to Advocaat to add elements to Kökçü’s game. The experienced coach calls him ‘the Netherlands’ greatest talent’, but he wants to see more of the youngster. More energy, more goals.

Orkun Kökçü and his former coach Dick Advocaat

And Kökçü delivers. In the second half of the season, he increasingly plays the full ninety minutes. He makes an important goal against FC Utrecht, Advocaat’s old club, and provides four more assists in the weeks that follow. He is also named best player under 21 by the Eredivisie in the month of December. orrie sends the most passes within Feyenoord and joins Salomon Kalou and Dirk Kuyt, who also produced their first five goals in away games. The season is ended prematurely due to CoViD-19, but the dot of Orkun Kökçü is on the horizon behind the ports of Rotterdam. The market value of the nineteen-year-old Feyenoord player is (according to Transfermarkt.nl) currently at about fourteen million euros. His goal of twenty million euros seems within reach.

A diamond in the rough
On September 6, 2020, exactly one year after his debut for Turkey Under 19, Kökçü will make his homeland’s first team debut. In the meantime, due to the corona crisis, he is still waiting for his first full season with Feyenoord. It’s going to be a tough year. The talent that has not known Kuipvrees since his debut, seems to give in to an empty stadium. With only one assist in the league and one goal in the Europa League that Feyenoord has no chance of leaving, the development of the midfielder seems to falter.

Kökçü then struggles with a lingering ankle injury, which keeps him sidelined for weeks. Feyenoord is now announcing the new trainer for the coming season: Arne Slot. Kökçü will want to put himself in the spotlight before his arrival. In the second half of the season, after recovering from his injury, he partially recovers. In Advocaat’s final season, the midfielder still makes many minutes in a Feyenoord that doesn’t house the competition to put him on the bench, but he still looks too much like a talent. Rough, at times very good, but mostly sloppy. His value, estimated at around 17.5 million at the beginning of this 2020/21 season, is therefore falling rapidly. He himself thinks that there are more critical voices since his choice for Turkey. “Maybe that’s not true, but that’s how it feels sometimes. In Turkey, young players enjoy more credit than in the Netherlands.” On behalf of the Turks, the Feyenoord player will play for ten minutes at the European Championship 2021, against Switzerland. His country, however, goes down ingloriously with three losses.

Despite his lesser form, Feyenoord still sees the promise that the now Turkish international can fulfill. That confidence is again apparent when star player Steven Berghuis leaves Feyenoord at the end of the season. Kökçü will then receive the popular jersey number 10 and the status that comes with it. It also seems to be a way of putting pressure on talent. It’s the role he should have already taken on, which didn’t quite work out. Now he gets the corresponding number, to behave like that on the field under Slot.

Orkun Kökçü is visibly disappointed after the game against Drita

Yet dissatisfaction persists. After the diptych with FC Drita in the qualifying round for the Conference League, former Feyenoord coach Mario Been is critical of the midfielder: “He wants to give every ball hard. He has to put the players around him to work, but at the moment he is so sloppy.” Kenneth Perez provides the same points for improvement: “He can play football, but the pace is too slow. He has to get substance and become more dynamic, or go down a line and play as ‘six’.”

A new role
Slot seems to share that view. After a solid conversation with the Turkish midfielder, it is noticeable in the coming weeks that Kökçü has a more controlling role. He comes to get the ball from the defenders more often and divides the game with more peace of mind. Bee This was the weekend Kees Kwakman and Marciano Vink praise him: “This role suits him very well”, says Kwakman. “He just doesn’t have the speed of action to find the solution at ten, in the crowds. Things are going really well now,” explains Vink.

After a good game against NEC in January, in which Kökçü scored twice, Been will talk to the midfielder on live television. “You show again today that you have a good shot. Why don’t you shoot more often, man?” Kökçü is eager to learn: “I do it more during training sessions, when the pressure is gone. Maybe I really should shit more often.” Mario Been gently pats his chest in the weeks after, when the controller scores three more games in a row. He appears to have listened.

Orkun Kökçü celebrates the 1-2 against NEC

It’s the attitude that graces him. Don’t shut yourself off from criticism, but take it in and improve yourself. Even after the quarterfinals of the successful campaign in the Conference League, Kökçü stands out for his mentality. “It sucks that you introduce that first goal against,” he says glumly in front of the camera. While his teammates celebrate, he shows himself dissatisfied with himself. “I’ll still be dealing with it now. Tonight I can thank my teammates and celebrate.”

In addition, the Turkish Dutchman is open about his work with a personal trainer. “After the match against Drita, the trainer said he wanted to see me fitter”. The midfielder got to work, which was reflected in the field. Kökçü reached the final of the Conference League with his team, achieved his highest contribution to goals with a total of nine assists and as many goals. In addition to Tyrell Malacia, he made the most minutes for Feyenoord this year. His transfer value is now approaching twenty million, although former Feyenoord player Ali Boussaboun was a little less careful: “He looks good. At clubs like Arsenal. Kökçü may soon be worth fifty or sixty million.”

Orkun Kökçü finally showed this year why he is considered a great talent. He topped off his first full season with Feyenoord with a Conference League final and a personal status befitting someone who wears the number ten. The twenty million he wants to bring in seems only a matter of signature. Mainly because of the resilience he shows, the will to improve himself and his patience can orrie getting ready for a great future.