Turkish international Hakan Çalhanoğlu has long been on the radar of Premier League sides Arsenal and Manchester United. The 21-year-old has shown over the past two-and-a-half seasons in the German Bundesliga why he is so highly-rated and sought after, and if either Premier League side were to sign him over the next 12 months, they would immediately improve their odds for a Premier League title next season.
Originally coming through the youth ranks at Karlsruher SC where he played a season and a half in the second and third tiers combined in Germany, Hamburger SV signed the exciting prospect ahead of the 2013-14 season.
Whilst the Old Dinosaur struggled that season, Çalhanoğlu was one of their bright sparks, arguably the difference between survival and relegation, scoring 11 goals and assisting another four from the left wing role.
12 months after arriving at the Volksparkstadion he got a big move to Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Champions League football, during the last World Cup.
He was an instant hit in his first season with Bayer 04, netting eight goals and assisting a further six in his 33 league appearances.
His performances continue to be good for mid-table Bayer 04 in 2015-16, but the end product hasn’t quite been there for he and his side – only one goal and one assist in the first 12 Bundesliga matches so far this season.
Still with another three-and-a-half years left on his contract at the BayArena, Arsenal, Manchester United and any other potential buyer would need to stump up a large sum to prize one of the club’s top assets away.
At 21 years of age, Çalhanoğlu has more potential, already with plenty of experience under his belt. Many have likened him to Arsenal’s Mesut Özil thanks to his excellent passing and set piece abilities.
His free kick that beat Roman Weidenfeller from more than 40 yards is perhaps his most memorable moment to date, and he isn’t afraid to attempt long range efforts.
Would that suit Manchester United? A side who scored their first effort from more than 18 yards for 18 months only last weekend? Louis van Gaal would surely not turn down or reduce the talent of the Turkish playmaker.
Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s versatility would be useful for both Arsenal and United, having spent a lot of time on both the left wing and as the central attacking midfielder.
The Gunners currently have Alexis Sánchez and Özil in those roles, so it’s hard to see Arsène Wenger spending big money on another midfielder, unless he planned to move his Chilean star out to the right wing.
As for United, Anthony Martial continues to start on the left wing and Wayne Rooney has played that number 10 role several times under the Dutch manager – there’s potential for United to upgrade here in January or next summer, with the purchase of the Bayer 04 player. United are still a good bet for the Premier League but they need reinforcements to be a consistent force at the top.
Indeed, should Roger Schmidt’s side fail to qualify for next season’s Champions League then they would have an even bigger task of holding onto their star during the summer.
If Manchester United were able to add Çalhanoğlu to their books it would certainly be another excellent piece of business for the record champions of England, who have largely disappointed in the final third so far this season.