Caglar Soyuncu is a right-footed, 22-year-old centre-back who currently plays for SC Freiburg in the Bundesliga, but has been heavily linked with Arsenal. SC Freiburg have played with both three and four man defensive lines this season, and Soyuncu has been equally comfortable in both, generally taking the left-hand side of a central pairing or the outer left side of a three-man defence; he is, however, capable of playing across the three-man back line should it be necessary.
He is very much in the stopper mould of central defenders. Showing good anticipation, Soyuncu likes to get forwards, stepping out of the defensive line to close down the opposition, while his central colleague, usually Manuel Gulde at Freiburg, hangs back to cover. Soyuncu is less inclined to adjust his position in the line to mark – it is a more a case of pushing up quickly when the ball is coming to an opposition player who has found space between the defensive lines. This shows that Soyuncu is both able to anticipate and adapt to players’ movement, but also that he does not like to move up too early, which can cause a dog leg in the defensive line and leave his side open to angled runs in behind.
That is not to say his judgement is perfect, and he does occasionally get it wrong and overcommit to a move forwards, which can leave him having to recover with a sliding tackle or to use his pace to try to get back. This is the main cause of his disciplinary issues: while Soyuncu is not a dirty player, his zealous approach to closing down and the occasional misjudgement of positioning means that he sometimes commits fouls or has to leave his feet to make a challenge as a result.
By and large, though, this approach to defending works well for Soyuncu and the team. His 2.3 interceptions per 90 is a good indication of how productive this approach can be, as well, as he frequently wins the ball back and snuffs out an opposition attack before Freiburg have to fall back too close to their own goal. He is also difficult to get past: he only gets dribbled past 0.5 per 90, while he completes tackles at a rate of 1.8 per 90. He has some work to do on his body positioning when standing a player up, as he can seem indecisive and this sometimes allows the opposition to get past while running inside towards the goal when he should be forcing them wide. He is, however, good at recovering these positions as mentioned above, and this aspect of his defending should improve with age and coaching.
Soyuncu competes aggressively in the air, whether defensively or coming up at corners. He has a tendency to mistime his jumps, and his winning of aerial duels (2.3 per 90) is only a bit better than his losing of them (1.6 per 90). It’s an area he needs to work on, as is his long passing. Freiburg like to play it out from the back at times, and the ball is often passed to Soyuncu from the advanced full-back or wing-back, or even the defensive midfielder, for him to play long. When his passes come off, they can be excellent, finding wide players in space and initiating quick counter attacks from a deep position. Too often, though, his passing can be a little aimless. He would likely benefit from having another good passing option beside him at centre back, or a team who seek to build more slowly from the back; having said that, he shows promise in this area.
All in all, Soyuncu has the makings of a very good defender, especially within a pressing system, and alongside someone capable of sweeping up behind him. There are areas that need improvement, especially his passing and heading, but the building blocks are there for a Premier League level defender and, it must be remembered, he is still young. Should Arsenal’s interest solidify, he would make an excellent acquisition and it is far from a stretch to see him and Rob Holding making a fine, complimentary defensive partnership in the future.
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