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Burak Ince: Turkish teenager being eyed by Europe's biggest clubs

They might not be as well known to the wider world as the giants of Galatasaray, Besiktas or Fenerbahce, but in the landscape of Turkish football, second-division side Altinordu are playing an important role.

The club's motto translates as "Good person, good citizen, good player", citing Altinordu's ambition to produce both well-educated and highly-talented footballers through their top-tier academy system.

In recent years, their success rate has been growing.

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Both Cengiz Under and Caglar Soyuncu began their footballing journeys with the Izmir-based club, and have since gone onto become key figures in the Turkey national team as well as quality performers in Europe's top five leagues.

That conveyor belt of talent is showing no signs of slowing down, either.

Highly-touted 18-year-old centre-back Ravil Tagir is already a Turkey Under-21 international and has a handful of Super Lig appearances under his belt having left Altinordu for Istanbul Basaksehir in the summer of 2020, while 19-year-old striker Enis Destan is expected to move on this summer having netted 14 goals in all competitions last season.

Perhaps the jewell in the crown, though, is 17-year-old play-making midfielder Burak Ince, who has a number of the continent's top clubs on alert thanks to his mesmeric ability with the ball at his feet.

Already the youngest player to both appear and score in the Turkish second division, having done both at the age of 15, Ince has gone onto become a regular in the Altinordu first team over the past two seasons.


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Having made 24 appearances, scoring two goals, during the 2019-20 campaign, he stepped up again last term, netting six times in 30 games across all competitions.

Those performances have already seen Ince make his debut for Turkey's U21s, though his development comes as no surprise to those who have watched him grow since joining Altinordu at the age of 11 from his hometown club of Manisaspor.

"Ince has a very bright future ahead of him," long-time Altinordu manager, Huseyin Eroglu, told reporters. "I have been following his development since the academy years.

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"As a club, we want to loan some of the young players out in order for them to play more. However, it was clear since day one that Burak Ince had exceptional talent. Therefore, I wanted him to stay with us."

Though he can play deeper, Ince is most at home when playing as a No.10, with his dribbling and passing belying his lack of experience.

He also possesses superb set-piece ability, with his cultured left foot ensuring he is a threat whenever free-kicks are given around the edge of the opposition's penalty area.

"We were playing against Ankaragucu in a friendly game before the season," Eroglu recalled. "We earned a free-kick in the second half and all the experienced players gathered around the ball to take the kick. But I wanted Ince to take it because I have followed him for so long, and I know his strengths.

"He took that free-kick and he scored. In that game, I made him feel that he is a talented player and he has my full support. That is very crucial in the process of player development."

Turkish football, of course, has had something of a love affair with left-footed playmakers in recent times, be that Galatasaray legend Gheorge Hagi or Fenerbahce icon Alex de Souza, and unsurprisingly Ince is being compared with those players.

David Silva has also been mentioned as a potential comparison for Ince, whose fleet-footedness and willingness to get into the penalty area were likely picked up when watching his footballing idol, Lionel Messi.

"My biggest strengths for me are my shooting and dribbling ability," he said when interviewed while playing for Turkey's U19s.


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"I would like to play regularly in Altinordu first team and then I want to go to Europe. I like the Bundesliga, La Liga and the Premier League.

"I also dream of playing for Barcelona one day."

No doubt Barca will be aware of Ince's talents, though they have not been credited with interest in signing him.

The same cannot be said for the likes of Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, though, with reports suggesting they are all keen on the teenage star, while the teams such as Sevilla, Bayer Leverkusen and Galatasaray are also rumoured to be in the hunt.

In the meantime, Ince, who stands at just 5'10" (178cm), is looking to improve his physicality while maintaining his high performance level at Altinordu.

If he is able to do that, then one of Turkish football's most important, if unheralded, clubs will have produced yet another potential superstar.