Offensive: As a central midfielder, Ozan Tufan is particularly good at offensive raids. Despite he’s not technically skilled as, for example, Salih Uçan, he has a good vision that makes him adapt to every moment of the game. He can touch the ball nicely, has a good run as well as a good right-footed long range shot, as he has already proved with both Bursaspor and Turkey.
Defensive: The years spent playing as a right full-back have clearly influenced his game. His ability lies in winning the ball and get it to the playmaker. His good positioning, strength and determination leave a lot of room for further improvement.
Orhaneli, near Bursa, 23 March 1995: Ozan Tufan was born. After his first kicks in some local teams, he attracted Bursaspor’s interest almost immediately. By the age of 10, he was already a Yavru Timash: a crocodile’s puppy. He would keep playing in the most famous Turkish youth sector until 2012, when he met a special mentor who would propel him to stardom.
Ertuğrul Sağlam is no ordinary man, but the one who steered Bursaspor to their only title in history. When Sağlam is seduced by the young Tufan, during the pre-season, no one doubts him anymore. On 9 August 2012, the boy from Orhaneli, just promoted to the senior team, was called-up for the Europe League clash against Kups: he came on after 63 minutes and scored a goal despite playing as a right-back. But a storm inside the club resulted with coach Sağlam being fired and Tufan going back to the youth team. Under the new coach Cristoph Daum, the player featured in the Turkish Cup, before playing again in Süper Lig in May.
The next year, with the new boss in the hot seat, Ozan becomes a regular presence in the senior team. During the 2013-14 season the boy came of age and, despite managers coming and going, he played 832 minutes across 13 games. A regular growth which would turn into a true explosion in the successive season.
The arrival of Şenol Güneş in Bursa changed everything. The coach moved Ozan Tufan up the pitch, where alongside Fernando Belluschi, as a defensive midfielder, he forms a highly-regarded couple. His worth peaked, and he attracted interest from Atletico Madrid, Lazio and Udinese. Surprisingly, he also became a keystone of the national team, coached by Fatih Terim.
With Tufan in the midfield, Turkey completed a comeback in its group stage for the EURO 2016 qualifying, as they remained unbeaten against Holland twice, to book a place in the major tournament. An impressive run that saw Ozan, only 20, emerging as a key player to its country: the miracle was done, but the midfielder’s professional growth was to continue. In summer 2015, Fenerbahçe was the best bidder and warded off competition from Beşiktaş to sign Ozan, who rapidly gained a primary role in the team’s midfield. Despite the likes of Raul Meireles and Diego, by October the player would start on a regular basis.
He’s a generous and intelligent boy, showing some naivety at times. Some daring comments on Twitter, back in 2012, forced him to delete his account. Fatih Terim said he was impressed by Ozan’s humility, who is clearly able to cope with the pressure of playing for the national team at the age of 20.
Pro and cons
UP: positioning, tactical intelligence, offensive raids, quality in the defensive work, resistance, consistency
DOWN: Technique, left foot, difficulty in the absence of a playmaker next to him