We are reaching the end of this season and, inevitably, teams around Europe and worldwide are preparing themselves for the summer transfer window. The focus for many will be on exciting prospects and young talents from around the globe. Here is a list of 13 talented African footballers who are going to be high on […]
Just a few short years ago Hakan Calhanoglu was considered one of the most exciting young players in Europe. Indeed, on these very pages we named the Turkish international among the top 10 most exciting young talents to watch in the German Bundesliga in 2014.
Calhanoglu’s enterprising style of play, along with his dazzling array of perfectly executed free-kicks, spoke of an attacking midfielder with the world at his feet. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing since then.
A four-month FIFA ban has kept the Bayer Leverkusen playmaker out since January, after he was found guilty of breach of contract and made to sit out a suspension. The breach related to his time at Karlsruher, where he accepted a €100,000 payment from Trabzonspor before extending his deal with the German outfit and declining to join the Turkish club.
The ban came at a hugely inconvenient time both for Bayer Leverkusen and for Calhanoglu, whose stock was continuing to soar after an impressive season in which he had registered seven goals and seven assists in 22 appearances.
Bayer were readying themselves for their Champions League knockout tie with Atletico Madrid, which they eventually lost, and their frustration was summed up by sporting director Rudi Voller who grumbled about “missing a very important player during a decisive part of the season.”
It is perhaps with this context in mind that it now seems Bayer Leverkusen are willing to part ways with Calhanoglu, and their loss could be AC Milan’s gain as the Italian giants look to acquaint themselves with the 23-year-old. According to Calhanoglu’s agent Bektas Demirtas, it’s a transfer that could go through in the coming days.
If the deal does go through, at a reported price of €20 million, AC Milan could well be getting a bargain. While not the quickest around, Calhanoglu is tactically astute and does seem well suited to the demands of Serie A. He would be one to complement some already eye-catching summer business from Milan, with deals for Andre Silva, Franck Kessie, Ricardo Rodriguez and Mateo Musacchio already wrapped up.
Bayer Leverkusen only won four of their remaining 16 Bundesliga matches last season in the Turkish international’s absence – a sign of his importance – and betting sites in Turkey are already shortening the odds on Milan to fight for the title this season on the back of their business so far. Calhanoglu would only add to that perception.
Calhanoglu joined Leverkusen from Hamburg in 2014 for a reported €14m, and if reports are to be believed the club are holding out for €30m from Milan, which would see them double their money on the player. To date he has hit 28 goals and 29 assists in 115 games for Bayer.
Calhanoglu agreed to waive his wages during the four month ban – a noble gesture, but also one that could prove his final act as a Bayer Leverkusen player. Their loss would be Milan’s gain.
😬 5 free kicks
👌 5 pearlers
Not many people strike a dead ball like Hakan Calhanoglu…🙌 pic.twitter.com/Qy6s5v23E0
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) June 29, 2017