Feyenoord. One of the big clubs in the Netherlands with the potential to be the biggest club, but that’s where it is usually left: potential. This goes for results, but it is also used for the players that are full of talent. They are doing well, especially in the Eredivisie, but too few have made the step from being a talent into a great player in one of Europe’s top leagues. But, it seems that there is one player that could change that all: Orkun Kökçü.
- Name: Orkun Kökçü
- Date of birth: 19–12–2000
- Nationality: Turkish
- Position: Central midfielder, attacking midfielder
- Contract expires: 30–6–2025
- Current club: Feyenoord Rotterdam
- Previous clubs: FC Groningen (Y), Feyenoord (Y)
- Current international: Turkey
With the theoretical frame, I try to look at what the scout report is meant to be saying about the player. In this case, I’m looking at the abilities of Kökçü in comparison to the league he most likely will go to. There have been rumors and interest from clubs in the English Premier League, so every claim and opinion in this piece will be in relation to his ability to play in that league.
The reason for this is that while Kökçü might be a top 5% player in the Netherlands or similar leagues, this might be completely different from other leagues. Not every good player in the Eredivisie will be a good player (instantly) in the Premier League and it’s important to keep that in mind when doing these reports.
Data and video collection
The data used in this scout report comes from different sources. The match data which will be used in graphs and plots come from Wyscout and contains Eredivisie results only from the 2021/2022 season. The reason why this is is to compare the players in this league to Kökçü and not every player will have played the same amount of international games for club or country — hence only the Eredivisie. He is compared to midfielders in the league.
The event data used in pass maps, shot maps, and heat maps come from Opta.
The video clips come from Wyscout and have been clipped from full games or downloaded as clips from the platform. Again, all these are from Eredivisie games in the 2021/2022 season.
All the data and video have been accurate and up to date, collected on April 26th, 2022.
Position and roles
Orkun Kökçü is a midfielder, but in that capacity has played in diferent positions this season. While he can be classified as a central midfielder, he has played the majority of his minutes in the Eredivisie this season, as a defensive midfielder.
Now, he is not a typical defensive midfielder, but here we have the debate between positions and roles. As position, he played as a defensive midfielder in a double pivot as employed by Arne Slot. Feyenoord usually plays in a 4–2–3–1 formation with Kökçü in that double pivot role.
If we look into his role rather than his position, we see the importance of him dictating play with his passes and progressing the ball from deep — allowing the attacking midfield trio to move up on the pitch. Therefore we can characterise him more as an 8 than a 6 on the pitch at Feyenoord.
Off the ball movement and positioning
In the image above you can see where Kökçü does his events during the games in the Eredivisie this season. While he plays in the double pivot, he is often seen in the left half space on the opposition’s half. Trying to penetrate the final third with his key passing, which we will see in the next section of this analysis.
In this role of his, he is responsible for progressing the ball further into the middle third and allowing others to become more advanced in either the wide areas or central areas. He is a player who opens up opportunities for the attacking players.
In the image above you can see how well Kökçü is doing in the key passes per 90 and through passes per 90 metrics. He is doing well in both these metrics, as he scores above average with 0,58 key passes per 90 and 1,52 through passes per 90.
Key passing is of vital importance for a player like Kökçü as he is seen as the one that dictates play with his passing. He drops down from the midfield and poses as an instrument to connect the defence to the attack. His progression via key passing is instrumental as we will see in the next section, but his contribution to the attacking play is something he is considered for too.
In the graph below you can see how well he performs in the key passing metrics, compared to his peers on that position.
To illustrate his ability, I’ve taken three specific clips to showcase how he contributes to the attacking contribution via through passes.
In the video above you see a clip from Feyenoord vs FC Utrecht with Kökçü on the left. He receives the ball and spots a runner in the middle, making a movent to the left. His vision is the most important in this case, as he sees a run that most didn’t anticipate.
In the video above you see Feyenoord in their away match against Heracles Almelo, as Kökçü situates himself on the right side. He is in the box and makes himself available for the combination with the winger and as he gets it, he immediately passes it into the space which is vacant. By doing that the winger can invert and get ready for the cross.
In the video above you can see Feyenoord in their game against Willem II. Kökçü has proven to see where the space is for his teammates and in this example, that’s no different. The ability to find himself pressed but still pick out a through pass to an unmarked teammate, is something that makes him stand out.
We have seen above how well he does with progressing on the pitch via his passing, but how well does he with the ball on his feet? You can see that in the scatterplot below.
In the scatterplot above you see the metrics or progressive runs per 90 and dribbles per 90 combined. These metrics illustrate how well a player is doing on the progression of the ball on his feet, in contrast to the progression via passing.
Kökçü does above average in this metric as you can see, but isn’t exceptional. He has 2,27 progressive runs per 90 and 3,39 dribbles per 90. In the two clips below, I will show you how his dribbling looks like on the pitch.
In the video above you see Feyenoord in their game against FC Utrecht where Kökçü gets the ball on the left. It’s a combination that occurs often. He cuts inside and then moves outwards. At the moment he does that, a defender will step out and create space on the far end of the pitch – after which Kökçü will spot the runner.
In the video above you can see Feyenoord in their match against Willem II. Kökçü gets the ball in zone 14 and dribbles past his direct opponent, setting himself up for a shot. His attempt isn’t successful but it shows what he can do to get himself in a good position.
In the image above I have illustrated how well Kökçü does in the expected threat (xT) metric in this season’s Eredivisie. Before I look further into this, this is what xT is:
The basic idea behind xT is to divide the pitch into a grid, with each cell assigned a probability of an action initiated there to result in a goal in the next N actions. This approach allows us to value not only parts of the pitch from which scoring directly is more likely, but also those from which an assist is most likely to happen. Actions that move the ball, such as passes and dribbles (also referred to as ball carries), can then be valued based solely on their start and end points, by taking the difference in xT between the start and end cell. In the case of Grealish, his ball carry brought a 0.013 xT increase, and the pass added a further 0.26 xT. In short, he moved the ball from a low-xT cell (0.02 xT) to a much more dangerous area of the pitch (0.32 xT). Note that the xT action value can be negative for passes and carries that move the ball away from goal. – Soccerments
In short, how much does Kökçü contribute to the expected threat of a sequence of actions towards goal? If we look at the top 10 players of this season we see that Kökçü scores 3rd.
In this part of the analysis, we will look at the quality of the shooting by Kökçü. In the scatterplot below you can see his expected goals per 90.
In the volume of shots, we can see that Kökçü does above average. He has 2,44 shots per 90. In the expected goals generated from those shots, the Feyenoord midfielder performs above average as well with 0,18 xG per 90. But it has to be said that he isn’t the most prolific striker of the ball in terms of generating xG.
Obviously, this tells us how he converts his shots into xG, but where does he take his shots? This will give us a more clear idea of why his xG is generated the way it is.
In the shot map above you can see where Kökçü takes his shots. He has 72 shots in the season so far, generating a total xG of 5,35. The actual goals he has scored have been 7, including 2 penalties. This means that he is overperforming his xG slightly by +1,65. This means that the likelihood of scoring is lower than his actual goal tally in the 2021/2022 Eredivisie season.
In the video below you can see all his goals in the Eredivisie so far:
In the scatterplot above you see the metrics expected assists and assists per 90 combined. This shows us how many assists Kökçü is expected to give per 90 minutes and the actual assists he gives per 90. In this aspect of his end product, he does very well. He has 0,26 xA per 90 minutes and gives 0,2 assists per 90. This means he is slightly underperforming with -0.06 per 90.
In total, he is expected to give 7,65 assists in this Eredivisie season and because he assisted 6, he is underperforming with -1,65. A notion of his assisting numbers is that he is the one for the set pieces, and therefore generates a higher xA than from open play.
Here are all his assists from the season so far:
Orkun Kökçü is a talented player who is ready for the next step. He can definitely play in either the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, Premier League or Ligue 1 – but he is suitable for some roles better than others. While he is used as an 8 in the double pivot, his data suggests that he is very good in the creating from the half space and zone 14, with his assists numbers being very good as well as his contribution to the expected threat.
As a central midfielder with an attacking mind, he could definitely contribute a lot as he likes to dictate play in the beginning of the attack, but also his danger in the attacking third. His attacking vision and awareness of runners is good, but his defensive contribution can be described as slow. For a box-to-box midfielder, he has a great work ethic and vision – also on the defensive side. But his pace between transitions is something he could work on, as well as choosing the moments where he takes a shot.