Clubs around Europe are always looking to snap up rising stars at bargain prices, and it’s for that reason that Bursaspor striker Ali Akman is in the headlines.
Chelsea and Arsenal were recently linked with the 18-year-old, who has just six months remaining on his contract, while Manchester City have now been tipped to lure the teenager away on a free transfer this summer.
Here’s everything you need to know about the in-demand Akman.
One of the first things you’ll notice about Akman is that he stands at around 5’8, but he doesn’t play like it.
Unsurprisingly, he does his best work on the ground, but he’s got a good track record when it comes to netting headers. Akman is not afraid to mix it up with the centre-backs.
It’s not his physicality which helps him match up, but rather his outstanding movement and vision. He knows how to get into the right positions and is capable of timing his jumps better than most.
When you think of small, powerful strikers, chances are it won’t take you long to land on Manchester City‘s Sergio Aguero, and that’s who Bursaspor boss Mustafa Er sees in Akman’s playstyle.
“I compare him to Sergio Aguero in style,” Er told Goal. “There are not many strikers like Ali. Normally, you’re either a strong striker who is better in the air or a faster striker who runs behind defences.
“Ali holds up possession, assists, scores goals, gets into positions, dribbles, beats his man… these features exist in Aguero as a striker.”
Comparisons to Aguero are understandable, but Akman believes he’s more like another Argentine, Inter‘s Lautaro Martinez.
“I try to copy similar strikers, and recently I’ve been watching Lautaro Martinez,” Akman told TRT Spor. “But I also like watching Roberto Firmino as well.
“I can watch Firmino for 90 minutes without taking my eyes off him. He’s an incredible striker.”
Most young players jump at the chance to name some of the all-time greats as their idols, but for Akman, the only player he ever looked up to was his uncle, Galatasaray great Ayhan Akman.
“The fact that my uncle Ayhan became a footballer had a huge impact,” he confessed. “My uncle always gave me confidence. I started walking by playing football. I saw my uncle as my idol.”
Bursaspor were so sure that Akman had what it took to become a star that they moved him up to their Under-21 squad when he was 16, and he was bumped up to the seniors at 17.
He made his debut for Bursaspor just three months after his 17th birthday, and his first goal came just one week later when he was handed his first start.
That rapid progression has carried over on to the international scene. Between September 2019 and November 2020, he made his debut for Turkey’s Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 sides.
Despite making his name as a central striker, Akman’s playstyle has seen him deployed in a handful of positions on the pitch.
His big breakthrough at Bursaspor actually came as a left winger, but in order to maximise his goal threat, Akman was soon moved into a central role, and the results have been impressive.
However, Er is also happy to play Akman in the whole behind a striker, where his movement and build-up play can be more effective. That’s probably why he’s been watching Firmino.
A move to Europe is on the cards for Akman, who has attracted interest from all over the continent. However, it’s the Premier League which has caught his eye most.
He recently confessed to Manset Turkiye that he hopes to follow fellow countryman Cenk Tosun by playing in England’s top tier, which he believes is the best league in world football.
Akman is also full of confidence ahead of a possible move to England, insisting he believes his playstyle would fit in well in the Premier League.