HomeNFLEmre Sarigul, Turkish football expert: The lowdown on Yunus Emre Konak

Emre Sarigul, Turkish football expert: The lowdown on Yunus Emre Konak


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Brentford “could be rewarded richly” for moving early to sign midfielder Yunus Emre Konak, who completed his move to the Bees on Thursday, says Turkish football expert Emre Sarigul.

And, after his former Sivasspor boss Bülent Uygun – who handed him 17 starts this season – stated that he is “the most talented player I have seen in the last 30 years of Turkish football”, Sarigul has detailed what supporters can expect from the youngster.

What sort of midfielder is Konak, what are his key attributes, and what stands out when watching him?

Konak is a versatile no.6 with strong defensive and attacking attributes. The powerful central midfielder is strong in the tackle but also possesses a passing range and the ability to read the game of a player far more experienced.

He has a dominating presence in midfield, a calm demeanour, and does not panic under pressure. The hard-working midfielder closes down the opposition well, tackles hard, but also has a creative flair.

He is the archetypal modern central midfielder; technically gifted with the ability to read the game.

It has been a surprise seeing just how dominant he has been in such a technically and physically demanding position, but he has coped remarkably well. 

It is also impressive how mature Konak is for his age. Konak has had a meteoric rise moving from the Batman Tuprasspor academy in the Turkish academy league to Sivasspor in March 2023 and has already gone on to become a star player. 

Konak has broken into the Sivasspor team this season – why is that and how has he managed to keep his place in the starting XI?

Konak was part of the Sivasspor youth side that won the Under-17 league last season. The Anatolian-based side have been building an impressive youth setup and are starting to show the fruits of their labour.

Konak was one of the star players of that youth side and got fast-tracked to the first team over the summer. Credit has to be given to former Sivasspor manager Servet Çetin, who placed his trust in the youngster. He not only promoted Konak to the first team but made him a key player. 

Last year, Konak was named as one of “the 60 best young talents of world football born in 2006” by The Guardian – how good do you think he can become?

Sivasspor manager Bülent Uygun had the following to say about Konak: “The most talented player I have seen in the last 30 years of Turkish football is Yunus Emre Konak, his physique, tempo, ability to read the game and mentality is exemplary.”

Konak has a very high ceiling, he still has aspects of his game he needs to work on and areas to iron out but, most importantly, he is playing top-tier football and gaining invaluable experience. 

Brentford have completed the signing of Konak – were you surprised that some of Europe’s elite clubs weren’t chasing his signature?

The Turkish league is underrated, especially outside the major clubs. There has been a focus on youth development and the results are starting to shine through. Outside of the top four clubs Turkish football is not as thoroughly scouted as other major European leagues.

Sivasspor is off the beaten track in the central Anatolian steppes. It isn’t first on the list of destinations for scouts. It is a testament to the effectiveness of the Brentford scouting system that they spotted Konak first.

Usually, promising players will move to a top Turkish club before being spotted for a move to a major European league. Brentford moved early and could be rewarded richly. 

Being just 18, how do you think Konak will settle in in England and adapt to English football?

Konak is mature for his age, he already left his home city of Batman for Sivasspor and settled in without a hitch.

Moving to the UK will be a far more daunting move but I believe he has the character to settle in. He has a professional attitude and is well-grounded. 

How highly rated is Konak in Turkey when it comes to the national team? Is he someone that supporters think can eventually make a senior appearance after his performances for the youth teams?

Konak is very highly rated but is not a household name in Turkey – clubs outside the big four in the Süper Lig do not receive the same media attention so he is only known by football enthusiasts, Sivassopr fans, and back in his home city of Batman, where he is very much a superhero.

He is eyeing a spot in the Turkish national team and, if he does make it to the European Championships this summer, he could be in the running for playing time.

National team boss Vincenzo Montella has already demonstrated he is willing to give young players a chance. The likes of 18-year-old Arda Güler of Real Madrid and Kenan Yıldız of Juventus are already playing.

Konak could be next to join their ranks in one of the most exciting football generations Turkish football has seen in recent memory.

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