JOHN MACDOUGALL/Getty Images Arsenal reportedly sent a scout to watch Oguzhan Ozyakup, only for the Besiktas midfielder not to feature in his side’s 5-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.
The Daily Mirror reported the Gunners’ scouting mission, while calling Ozyakup the north London club’s ” top transfer target”: ” The Turkish star has been on the Gunners’ radar for several seasons having played for the club as a schoolboy.”
Arsenal’s interest in Ozyakup has been well-documented recently. Earlier this month, Turkish publication Aksam (h/t Charles Watts of Football.London) reported the Gunners have made a lucrative contract offer to the player, with a view to signing the 25-year-old on a free transfer in the summer.
Such a deal would be smart business for Arsenal, not least because of manager Arsene Wenger’s familiarity with Ozyakup. The Gunners manager knows he would be getting a midfielder with exceptional technique and vision, having overseen his progress through the youth ranks from 2008-12.
Wenger is reportedly keen to work with Ozyakup again. ROBERT HENRIKSSON/Getty Images Creative quality has usually defined Arsenal’s approach on Wenger’s watch. However, recent seasons have seen a decline in the Gunners’ proficiency and artistry in possession.
It’s a problem created by Santi Cazorla ‘s prolonged injury absence. Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey have also struggled to stay fit, while recent signings Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka haven’t managed to impose themselves.
Imposing himself is something Ozyakup has managed since leaving north London for Besiktas in 2012. His time with the Black Eagles has seen the schemer become club captain, as well as adding more nuance to his game.
Ozyakup has played as a No. 10 and also operated in a deeper role. He hasn’t lost his knack for creating chances and dictating passing.
Arsenal’s midfield is not as skilled or strong as in previous seasons. Julian Finney/Getty Images Wenger may need those qualities to necessitate a refresh of midfield sooner rather than later.
Wilshere is out of contract this year, while Ramsey’s deal expires in 2019. Wenger sold Francis Coquelin in the January transfer window but has young players such as Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson ready to make the move from the academy to regular first-team football.
It wasn’t a transition Ozyakup managed during his first spell at Arsenal, but the Turkey international would surely take on a key role if he’s brought back to north London in the summer.