As UEFA take the European Championships around the continent later this year, we could be talking about a watershed moment in the competition’s history.
But it might not be for the reason you’re thinking of.
There’ll be a huge raft of Euros rookies debuting in a major tournament, but there’s one in particular – who plays in the royal blue of Schalke 04, that could cause a real stir this summer.
Turkish teen Ozan Kabak has been a revelation since swapping home comforts for the rough and tumble of the Bundesliga in 2019.
Still only 19 years old, Kabak was the shining light despite Stuttgart’s relegation last season, winning Bundesliga Rookie of the Year in just half a season in the league.
The ambitious defender then took advantage of an exit clause in his contract to bag a €15million move to Schalke in the summer.
After an injury-hit start to his career in Gelsenkirchen, he has shone in David Wagner’s side, making 16 Bundesliga appearances so far, and is part of the league’s joint-fourth best defence.
While Kabak is only expected to get stronger, with the prospect of a first taste of European club football looking likely – his stock could really begin to rise internationally in June.
A season-ending injury to compatriot Merih Demiral has opened an opportunity in the national team.
Caglar Soyuncu’s performances for Leicester City are expected to secure his spot – Kabak only made his international debut in November 2019 against Andorra, but his tenacious performances and cool-headedness make him hard to ignore.
Turkey boss Senol Gunes could opt for the more experienced Kaan Ayhan, but that would only be thwarting the 19-year old’s momentum.
Bild reported a €45million buyout clause in 2021, which could be a shrewd coup for one of Europe’s elite clubs.
The former Galatasaray youth, who’s fluent in English, admitted to Sport Bild, his desire to move to the ‘biggest and best’ Premier League in the next few years.
And his confident manner is yet again exemplified in a 2019 interview with Bundesliga.com suggesting he wants to emulate Virgil van Dijk.
So, any prudent sporting directors out there may be best placed to lock in a deal now, before an inevitable bidding war after the Euros!
Over to you Ozan!