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According to reports from the Daily Express, Chelsea and Barcelona are set to go head to head in order to sign German wonderkid Atakan Akkaynak from Bayer Leverkusen.
The 18-year old is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in Germany and Barcelona have been watching him for over a year now. Chelsea too have been monitoring the midfielder for a while now and the report claims the Blues’ scouts are impressed with what they have seen. It also states that Leverkusen, despite knowing that they have a great talent in their hands are willing to cash in on the midfielder, thus opening the doors for a move.
With Chelsea and Barcelona set to fight it out off the field for the player, we take a close look at who Atakan Akkaynak is and what makes him a special talent.
Born on 5 January 1999, in Troisdorf, Germany, Akkaynak started off at TuS Oberlar, before joining the academy of Bayer Leverkusen in 2006. Having progressed through the junior ranks, the midfielder broke into the Leverkusen U17 side in 2013 and became a regular part of the team in the 2014/15 season, in which he made 21 appearances, scoring 6 times. He continued his impressive run of form in the following season as well, scoring 4 goals in 23 games, which prompted a call-up to the U19 side.
Akkaynak became a full-fledged member of the U19s in the 2016/17 campaign, making 30 appearances in all competitions, in which he found the back of the net on 8 occasions. In December 2016, he was called up to the senior team as well and made it to the bench for the game against FC Koln, but did not make an appearance. The 18-year old has featured five times for the U19s in the ongoing term and has been made the captain of the team.
A constant fixture at all youth levels of the German national team, Akkaynak has represented Die Mannschaft at the U16, U17 and U18 levels, before making his debut for the U19s last month, for whom he has played twice now.
A central midfielder by trade, who can operate in a holding role and also as an advanced playmaker, Akkaynak has demonstrated great technical ability and creativity in his game. Someone who likes to sit deep and control the tempo of the game with his range of distribution – be it long diagonal balls to wide areas, or piercing through balls in behind the defence, Akkaynak also has a keen eye for a goal himself.
Good ground speed, great confidence with the ball at his feet and tactical and positional awareness, the 18-year old has all the traits required to develop into a top-class midfielder, although the defensive side of his game needs some polishing if he is to turn into a complete all-round operator in the middle of the park.
Akkaynak has a contract with Leverkusen that runs until 2019 but if the reports are to be believed, the German club are willing to cash in on the talented midfielder, which could lead to a transfer scramble between the interested parties. The 18-year old is filled with huge levels of potential and has what it takes to grow into a future star and whoever ends up signing him, be it Chelsea or Barcelona, will benefit in the long run.