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Ranking Roma’s Youth, #3: Cengiz Ünder

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Can Ünder take all the hype and turn it to a starting spot?

U18 Turkey v U18 Germany - International Friendly Photo by Deniz Calagan/Bongarts/Getty Images

I would bet you my left kidney that Cengiz Ünder was a complete unknown to the vast majority of Romanisti before he was presented by Monchi, but in the short span that the Turkish Talent has been training at the Trigoria he has certainly impressed the faithful. With the signing of Riyad Mahrez looking more and more unlikely by the day, Ünder may become Roma’s starting right winger very, very, quickly, but if there’s a prospect that’s up to the challenge it’s certainly Cengiz.

Number Three: Cengiz Ünder

Age: 20

Position: RW

Current Club: AS Roma

Rank Last Year: N/A

Future Comparison: Dele Alli

Who Is He?

Cengiz Ünder was born in Sındırgı, Turkey on July 14, 1997, and by the age of ten he had begun his journey in professional football in the youth teams of Izmir-based Bucaspor. Fast forward to 2014 and Ünder has moved on to Altınordu FC, where he made his first professional appearance and quickly became a first-team regular. Ünder didn’t take long to impress the Turkish scouts, scoring eleven goals in 51 appearances and securing himself a €4.7 million transfer to İstanbul Başakşehir.

Ünder continued to impress at Başakşehir, where he scored seven goals and assisted five as a key cog for a club seriously competing for the Süper Lig title. By the end of this past season, the likes of Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspurs, and Real Madrid were snooping around the winger, but Monchi’s long-term interest in the player resulted in his eventual €13.4 million transfer to Roma. Since then, it’s been nothing but memes and promise, with Roma’s marketing department chomping down on an exciting new attacker like a starving dog on a piece of prime rib:

Beyond the memes, though, Ünder has still been quite impressive; the Turkish international was the most exciting player on Roma’s preseason tour, and all signs point to him being a vital cog in Eusebio Di Francesco’s new-look Roma.

What Can He Do?

Much like Roma’s former Egyptian Meme Pharaoh Mohamed Salah, one of Ünder’s main traits is his pace. He moves fast, he gets open, and he can use that left foot of his to score goals. What’s encouraging for a relatively young prospect is that Ünder also appears to have a good head on his shoulders; many scouts have noted his maturity on the ball and a general calmness one wouldn’t expect for a player who couldn’t buy a beer in the United States.

What Can He Become?

International Champions Cup 2017 - Tottenham Hotspur v AS Roma Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

If he plays his cards right, Ünder could become Roma’s starting right winger this season. There isn’t very much standing in his way; Mohamed Salah is playing in the Premier League, Gregoire Defrel isn’t really a right winger, and as of right now it seems unlikely that another right winger is going to say “Forza Roma!” before the start of the season. It certainly helps his cause that Eusebio Di Francesco is known to provide chances to youth, and with no other right winger prospects coming out of the Primavera system, it almost looks like the right winger spot is Ünder’s to lose.

"We are extremely happy with the arrival of Cengiz, a player with great technical ability. We are confident he will quickly adjust to his new surroundings and his quality and talent will be a valuable addition to our squad.” - Monchi

Watch this space; Cengiz Ünder might become a household name very very quickly (that is, if we can get everyone to pronounce it correctly).

Poll

What should Ünder's role be this season?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Starting right winger. Welcome to the jungle, Cengiz.
    (208 votes)
  • 55%
    Rotation option until he learns the league. He’s got the skill, he just needs some time to understand Italy.
    (265 votes)
  • 0%
    Bench warmer. He just hasn’t impressed me so far.
    (4 votes)
477 votes total Vote Now