Who needs Maguire? Leicester have Soyuncu, the Turkey centre-half with super-human strength

Calgar Soyuncu Harry Maguire Leicester Man Utd
The Turkey international has been a revelation since stepping into the void left behind by the England centre-half, who joined Man Utd this summer

The new Premier League season may only be a couple of months old but Leicester fans now like to sing, "Harry Maguire, we don't need you, we have Caglar Soyuncu!"

And why not?

Leicester may have lost their star centre-half to Manchester United during the summer but that £80 million ($100m) sale is now looking like a masterstroke, with Soyuncu ensuring that Maguire's absence is not being felt at all.

Indeed, manager Brendan Rodgers has made no secret of his goal to break up the Premier League's 'Big Six' this season and there is now a growing belief around the King Power Stadium that the fourth-placed Foxes could be set for their best campaign since their shock title win in 2015-16.

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Certainly, the concerns which surfaced following Maguire's departure to Old Trafford have been soothed by Soyuncu and his fine form, with the Turkey international having played a major role in Leicester shipping just seven goals this season – only leaders Liverpool have conceded fewer.

Soyuncu initially struggled to settle in England, after his £19m ($24m) transfer from Freiburg last season, but Hamit Altintop, the former Schalke and Bayern Munich ace now working in youth and coaching development for the Turkish Football Federation, says that Rodgers deserves immense credit for the way in which he handled the 23-year-old's situation.

"We had meetings with Caglar to discuss his development and he was a little bit nervous [about his lack of game time]," Altintop told Goal at Leaders Week in London, as he presented Istanbul's plan to host the Champions League final in 2020.

"Young people always think that, if they aren't playing, they are bad players or that they need to join another team. But it’s all part of the learning process.

"I think Leicester is a good team for the development of players like Caglar. The time when you use these players is important and Caglar is now ready.

"Brendan Rodgers deserves thanks for Soyuncu’s development. I think this is a career that other Turkish players need to understand. A career is not only highs but highs and lows. The important thing is not to lose passion or love for the game in this tough business."

Caglar Soyuncu Hamit Altintop Leicester PS

Certainly, things change quickly in football and it is remarkable that Soyuncu is already the subject of transfer talk, with recent reports claiming that Manchester City believe the Izmir native could be the answer to their defensive problems.

Tuncay Sanli is in no doubt that his compatriot could play at an even higher level given his technical ability and almost super-human strength.

"He can almost break your hand with a handshake!" the former Turkey international tells Goal. "It is a problem for you!

"He is very strong physically but he is very comfortable on the ball now too. He likes to play football. Some teams in English football like to play long balls but he doesn’t like that. He always passes the ball well and he can dribble too. 

"I think he could go to a top team, why not? I like him. He can be a big player for the national team. He is working hard.

"I wouldn’t want to face him. I would be scared of him. And I know he has got a good character too."

Caglar Soyuncu Tuncay Sanli Leicester PS

Indeed, Soyuncu certainly won't be thinking about a possible transfer at this stage of the season, not with his country facing two massive Euro 2020 qualifiers in the coming days.

Turkey are currently level on points with France in Group H but occupy top spot thanks to their rousing 2-0 win over the world champions in June.

Senol Gunes' side host Albania on Friday before travelling to Saint-Denis on Monday for a crunch clash with Les Bleus.

It's obviously an exciting time for Turkish football, with Altintop pointing out that Soyuncu is just one of a plethora of promising young players starting to make a name for themselves.

"In the Turkish Football Federation, I have responsibility for the youth teams and coaching education and it is busy at the moment because we have a lot of talent," he enthuses.

"We have a lot of work to do and it is a heavy responsibility but I am happy. We have a good generation of players in the current national team. We started well in our qualifying games for Euro 2020. We beat France at home and this was great for our confidence.

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"We want to qualify for more tournaments. These players need the experience and challenges that come with playing in major tournaments.

"With qualification, we can then see what level they are at. But we have quality, like Caglar, we are going the right way about things, and are working professionally."

None more so than Soyuncu. Just like Leicester fans, Turkey supporters are happy to have him.