Lille have a rich history of finding talent, and they’ve proven it once again after the breakthrough season of Yusuf Yazici, who is turning heads after some excellent displays for the Ligue 1 side. We’ve already seen a handful of stars make the transition to the Premier League after being spotted or produced by Lille, including Eden Hazard, Nicolas Pepe, Idrissa Gueye, Sofiane Boufal and Divock Origi. Yazici looks to be next in line, and should he continue in his current vein of form then it won’t be long until England’s elite come calling for Lille’s next big prospect.
Yazici slams home a penalty to score one of his three goals against AC Milan last week
It’s a shame there are no fans around to see him strut his stuff after some scintillating performances – especially in the Europa League, where he’s netted two hat-tricks already in the group stage. One of those came against in-form AC Milan last week as they shocked the Italians 3-0 at the San Siro.
He will have his latest chances to impress when he turns out for Turkey against Croatia in a friendly on Wednesday night, and then in the Nations League against Russia and Hungary in the next week.
But who is the 23-year-old and what would make him such an exciting proposition for European clubs? Sportsmail takes a closer look.
Who is Yusuf Yazici?
Born in Turkey and quickly developing a passion for the game, Yazici excelled for his school side and was taken on board by Turkish Super Lig outfit Trabzonspor at the age of 11.
An attacking midfielder, his maturity and quality became obvious early on and he didn’t have long to wait before signing his first professional contract with the club in December 2015 as he put pen to paper aged just 18. It turned out to be quite a week for Yazici as he would make his debut for his boyhood side the next day in the Turkish Cup, picked to start against Gaziantepspor.
His manager Hami Mandirali clearly liked what he saw as he gave him his first league appearance in February off the bench. He had to contend with a bit-part role for the remainder of the 2015-16 campaign but offered a glimpse of his ability with two goals towards the end of the season.
Yazici already has 24 caps for the Turkey national team despite being only 23 years of age
From then on he began to establish himself in the side – playing 22 times the following year, scoring six goals before his breakthrough year of 2017-18. He was an ever-present as he featured in 35 games in all competitions, scoring 10 goals.
Still in his early twenties at the time, Trabzonspor were faced with a challenge to keep hold of their starlet, but eventually caved in after Lille emerged as the favourites to seal his signature.
Liverpool was rumoured to be interested but the French outfit was willing to offer him regular football and offered Trabzonspor £16million – the highest transfer fee they had ever received – and it was a done deal.
The Turkish side was so keen to keep him away from their rivals that they inserted a clause in the deal forcing Lille to pay £20m if they sold him to another team in the Super Lig. They even retired his No 97 jersey, insisting he could have it back if he ever returned to the club.
He has since played 34 times for the club and has already racked up 24 caps for the Turkey national side – scoring once.
What’s his style of play?
Yazici is a versatile creative midfield player who can play at left-wing or right-wing – but really comes alive in the centre behind the striker. His footwork is easy on the eye and he enjoys driving forwards with the ball – with an impressive vision to pick out his team-mates and isn’t afraid to have a go from range either.
He’s definitely your man at set-pieces too – and was the regular corner and free-kick taker for Trabzonspor and has also taken on the responsibilities at Lille, providing a host of chances thanks to his dangerous, bending deliveries.Spark Global Limited
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