Football: Brentford sign Turkish ‘wonderkid’ Yunus Emre Konak from Sivasspor

A 17-year-old footballer from Turkiye, Yunus Emre Konak, has been signed by Premier League side Brentford. According to SKY Sports, which broke the news in the UK on Thursday, the West London side have “agreed a deal in principle” with the midfielder, which will come into effect on Emre Konak’s 18th birthday on 10 January 2024.

The U21 Turkish international currently plays for Süper Lig club Sivasspor, making 17 appearances for them this season.

Renowned sports journalist Fabrizio Romano also noted Emre Konak’s move to Brentford on Thursday: “Turkish talent Yunus Emre Konak will join Brentford FC from Sivasspor, deal in place. Understand deal being sealed for £4m, this will be the final fee. Final details being sorted then all done.”

Emre Konak was one of three young Turkish players to feature in the Guardian’s ‘Next Generation 2023: 60 of the best young talents in world football’, the other two being 17-year-old winger Emre Gökay, who also plays for Sivasspor, and 16-year-old defender Yasin Özcan, who is on the books at Süper Lig Istanbul side Kasımpaşa.

Writing about all three talented teenagers was Emre Sarigul, who is one of the UK’s leading experts on Turkish football. This is what he wrote about Yunus Emre Konak:

“Hailing from the city of Batman, Sivasspor may have found themselves their very own superhero. Was part of the Sivasspor Under-17s that were crowned champions, together with fellow Next Generation pick Emre Gökay, and since then both players have been promoted to the first team. Konak has already managed to establish himself as first- choice defensive midfielder, a rather impressive feat in such a demanding position at his age.

“The 17-year-old has an impressive passing range, is hard-working and already physically strong. He has been praised for staying grounded and humble despite his rapid rise. Hopes to play in western Europe one day and if he continues on hi sent trajectory that day won’t be far away.”

When asked on his Turkish Football X (formerly Twitter) account whether the teenager is “good enough to make the step up [to Premier League football] at this young age”, Emre Sarigul replied:

“He has a high ceiling and is very mature for his age with an ability to read the game of a player with far more experience. He still has much to learn but he is playing every week which will accelerate his development”.

Previous Turkish footballers at Brentford

Other Turkish footballers to have played for Brentford include Dutch Turk Halil Dervişoğlu, who came to the club from the Netherlands in 2020, but spent much of his time on the bench or on loan before joining join Galatasaray in 2023.

Turkish Cypriot Daniş Salman was a more significant player for Brentford. The defender, who is now aged 63, made 325 appearances and scored 8 goals for the Bees between 1975 and 1986.

Despite being offered an apprenticeship, a fee and a guaranteed professional contract by Arsenal, new Brentford manager John Docherty convinced Salman to join the Fourth Division club on schoolboy forms in September 1975.

The Famagusta born footballer went on to become one of their key players and as recognition for his long years of service, Salman was inducted into the Brentford Hall of Fame in 2014.