Semih Kaya, a legitimate replacement for Nemanja Vidic?
Feb 11, 2014 4:13 PM EST
Manchester United center back Nemanja Vidic has made it no secret that he plans to leave Old Trafford after this season. Vidic has been more than serviceable throughout his tenure, playing a crucial role in holding the fort during United’s five Premier League titles and their UEFA Champions League title in the 2007-2008 season. Without a primary enforcer in the backline, the Red Devils’ backline are going to look thin entering next season with Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Rio Ferdinand, and Jonny Evans in rotation. While Jones, Smalling, and Evans are exceptional defenders, they lack star qualities to make up for Vidic’s impending absence. And Rio? Well, he’s old.
Rumors has been spreading that United is inquiring on Turkish international Semih Kaya from Galatasaray with a 12 million Euro offer to fill in the major hole that Vidic will leave. The 22-year-old is one the most highly touted prospects who has the skillset to play in an elite-tier club. But does he have what it takes to fill in Vidic’s shoes? Although it’s unfair to compare the two due to the vast difference in experience, a closer examination on Kaya’s attributes can give us a better idea of what Kaya could provide for United.
Kaya’s key attribute is his ability to read the game. Despite being only 22 years old, Kaya has played the center back position with a veteran-like intuition. Relaxed and composed, Kaya knows how to cover the backline in case his fellow defender moves out on the attack. Kaya is not aggressive and does not apply pressure that often, preferring to read and cut off the passing lanes; however, do not mistake that for his inability to put pressure. The Izmir-native knows when he should and shouldn’t put pressure on the dribbler, and when he does, he usually wins the ball.
Opposing attacks will rarely catch Kaya off-guard. Another admirable trait the Turk possesses is focus. Kaya plays with commitment for the entire 90 minutes and works hard to ensure that opponents won’t find an easy target at the net. Even if he gets beaten on the attack, Kaya never gives up and does whatever he can to protect the net. You can’t talk about Kaya without mentioning his work ethic.
For a center back, Kaya does have a decent first touch and ball control. He seems at ease whenever the ball is at his feet and doesn’t play hot potato to give it to a more composed dribbler.
Must Improve Physical strength
Kaya is not terrible in aerial coverage, but he has trouble against physical target strikers. Most clubs in the Turkish Super Lig lack a physical presence up top that can test Kaya. Burak Yilmaz would have been a good matchup, however he too plays for Galatasaray. Although the sample size is small, we see Kaya looking outmatched against the likes of Karim Benzema from Real Madrid and Hugo Almeida from Besiktas.
Although he has improved his body strength over the course of his career, Kaya still looks far from physically intimidating by Premier League standards. Manchester United needs an indomitable enforcer who can wear down opposing attacks and Kaya must make improvements in the weight room to meet those needs.
Little to contribute on the attack
Kaya has not been able to demonstrate his ability to help on the offensive end and this is most likely due to the fact that at Galatasaray he focuses on playing deep in the defensive end. Kaya has not shown the ability to get creative with his long passes and has rarely placed the ball in an advantageous position for the attack.
As a center back, Kaya has an all-around skillset and would give Manchester United an advantage whenever the club decides to change their style of play at certain points in the season. Although his current skillset does not give United a major advantage over the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City, the fact that Kaya is mentally disciplined and mature beyond his years are encouraging signs that he will significantly improve as time passes. With Manchester United pushing for a 12 million Euro offer, the Red Devils should bring this young man to Old Trafford and make him the foundation of their backline for the coming years.