Hipster Footballer of the Week: HSV's Hakan Çalhanoğlu
The last few entries in the Hipster Footballer of the Week have been written in the indelibly cool ink of Ligue 1: un synonyme pour tous les meilleurs types que j'adore regarder. But that is staid like plaid, right, so this week I have endeavoured to bring you something a little different. Not enormously different, though, because I think it is generally accepted that the Bundesliga weighs in with its fair share of the young, dashing players that hipsters get all gooey-eyed and weak-kneed about, while retaining full sang-froid, naturally.
I did cast my eye over one or two mouth-watering fixtures in Campeonato Brasileiro, and, of course if you’re a real hipster, you set your alarm and pre-brewed a strong filter for Thursday morning’s 0200 and 0410 Copa Libertadores games. But I settled on what could be perceived as a slightly drab affair, Augsburg against Hamburger SV, in Germany’s top-flight. Augsburg, mentioned at excitingly gory length in the masterful historic imaginings of anarchist collective Luther Blissett’s book Q (the town, not the team), have over-achieved this season and currently sit in eighth with a tilt at European football next season still strongly viable.
Hamburger SV, on the other hand, have been a right bloody mess, and find themselves in the relegation play-off spot, four points from automatic safety. This is intriguing because vibrant young attacking talents like this week’s focus, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, might soon be available at a knock-down, oh-shit-we-went-down sort of price.
Hamburger SV generally play wide, fast, and loose and with a devil-may-care tendency to extrovert individuality. They can’t defend though, which is a bit of an issue when you pour men forward with abandon. It does make for exciting games though, and young Çalhanoğlu has flourished under what can really only be loosely described as Hamburger SV’s ‘system’.
He has the ability to play up front or anywhere across an attacking midfield three, usually popping up as an inverted left winger who drifts in an attempt to leave space for overlapping fullbacks and create chances, either for himself or others. He is adept at fashioning and finishing both short and longer efforts and he is a decent crosser as well, using his pace to get beyond his man to whip crosses in, but also not afraid to stand off and play longer, floated balls into the box.
As you could probably guess from my observations about HSV above, it is reasonable to say that defending is not his strong point, and I’m not wholly convinced that the expression tracking back would mean an enormous amount to Çalhanoğlu either.
Not a Chelsea target, then, but a coach prepared to invest in this undoubtedly talented, unpredictable player would find himself with a serious talent if channelled the right way. Çalhanoğlu, impressively for a young man in a struggling team, is, as mentioned above, second in the scoring charts, third in the assists chart, and fifth in the appearances chart. Naughtily, he is one of only two HSV players to be red-carded this season, but that’s just youthful exuberance, right?
Playing for hipster team? Hard to argue this as a yes, especially given that they live in the shadow of über-hip St Pauli. But they’ve not been relegated since 1919, they play reckless football, and Keegan was there: 6
Mentioned as young talent by World Soccer? Hakan who?: 0
Linked with Arsenal for no particular reason? Yes, obviously. It was mooted for January this year, and Hakan was ‘honoured’ by the suggestion. It didn’t happen. Apparently they bought another German?: 8
From same nation as club? Sort of – like a lot of young Bundesliga talent, Çalhanoğlu has joint Turkish and German nationality, born in Germany to Turkish parents. He’s opted for Turkey at each youth level and has a full cap too: 8
Positive reference from the Guardian? Described as “not having a gaping hole in his leg” in a Rumour Mill from a few weeks back. That’s positively orgasmic from Glendenning: 8
Level of obscurity: There are a lot of wünderkinder in German football and so he’s under the radar in comparison to your Draxlers and Sams.: 8
Has Twitter decided to discover him? He’s got 25.5k followers, but apart from a few transfer rumours, he’s on the DL: 6
Hipster hobby? Scoring fifty-yard free-kicks in training then shrugging it off like, yeh?: 7
Overall: 51/80 – Saved a little bit from playing for a slightly shit club and not having any cool hobbies by being linked with Arsenal lots and not being that well known, Hakan Çalhanoğlu definitely has potential, both in the hipster stakes and, far less importantly, in actual real life. He could well be moving either our way or to Spain in the summer, and if HSV go down, it is a dead cert. Boom.
Watch Hakan Çalhanoğlu’s Hamburg gouge an Augsburg on Sunday 27th April at 1430 on BT Sport 1.
Follow Alex on Twitter, @putnielsingoal