Celtic have reportedly made an official approach for Trabzonspor goalkeeper Ugurcan Cakir.

According to reports in Turkey, Celtic have contacted Trabzonspor representatives seeking permission to open talks with the players’ agent ahead of making a formal offer of £7.5m for the 28-year-old.  Celtic have been linked with a host of keepers in recent months with current number one Joe Hart set to hang up his gloves at the end of the current campaign.

High-profile names such as Liverpool’s Caoimhin Kelleher and Real Madrid’s Andriy Lunin have been mentioned as potential targets while reports from the Netherlands last month claimed the club were keen on a move for RKC Waalwijk’s out-of-contract Etienne Vaessen – a data analysis of the Dutch keeper can be read here.

Brendan Rodgers’ attention now seems to have turned to Cakir, who has in the past attracted the interest of several Premier League clubs, including Liverpool. Interestingly, he was also reported to have been watched by Leicester City during Rodgers’ time at the King Power Stadium.

Here, we take a closer look at Cakir and assess what the Turkish international shot-stopper could offer between the sticks at Celtic Park…

Player Profile

Born in the capital Antalya, Cakir came through the ranks of Trabzonspor’s youth set-up and made his debut at just 19.

He was then loaned to 1461 Trabzon, Trabzonspor’s local affiliated club, to gain regular first-team experience before being offered further chances to impress on his return. By the 2018/19 season, he had established himself as the seven-time Turkish champions’ first-choice keeper.

Cakir has gone on to make over 230 appearances and become the Super Lig side’s club captain. He has also picked up 27 caps for Turkey and was his country’s number one at Euro 2020.

In terms of honours, Cakir won the Turkish Cup in 2019/20 before lifting the Super Lig title in 2021/22. He also has two Turkish Super Cup wins to his name. Trabzonspor’s league win in 21/22 and cup triumph in 19/20 saw them compete in the Europa League group stages in the subsequent seasons’ with Cakir making eight appearances across the two campaigns.

In terms of his physical profile, Cakir is a decent size at 6ft 3in, around the average height for goalkeepers in the Turkish top-flight this season.


To give some insight into Cakir’s performances we can start with one of the most fundamental jobs for a goalkeeper, shot-stopping.

For some context, Trabzonspor currently sit third in this year’s Super Lig but quite a way off the pace of the top two, Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. Not overly dominant, Trabzonspor have won 16 and drawn or lost 15 of their 31 games with Cakir facing 3.74 shots per 90 this season.

This is not a huge amount per game, but it is still higher than he would be expected to deal with at Celtic, on the domestic scene anyway – Hart has faced just 2.3 shots per 90 this season in the Premiership.

The above graphic from Wyscout details how Cakir has fared with the shots he has faced over the last calendar year. In total, he has faced 190 shots in the last 365 days and conceded 63 goals. This is above what he would have been ‘expected’ to save (62.02), but only slightly.

Taking a look at expected goals against minus conceded goals (prevented goals) from the last few seasons can give a more accurate picture of Cakir’s shot-stopping over a longer period.

The above table shows his prevented goals per 90 of the last five seasons in all competitions. Here we can see Cakir’s current prevented goals work out at -0.09 per 90. Note, this is in all competitions and just his 2023/24 minutes. He appears to have had a particularly difficult campaign on the shot-stopping front last season though with a negative score of -0.19 per 90.

Before then, Cakir had shown to be consistently very good in his shot-stopping. He posted positive numbers three seasons in a row before 2022/23 with his 2020/21 season being especially strong. That season his 0.24 prevented goals per 90 would have been worth around one less goal against every four games for Trabzonspor.

Leading to his spot as Turkey’s number one at the delayed Euro 2020 at the end of that season, this was when he was, unsurprisingly, most heavily linked with a move to the Premier League.

Over his whole career, Wyscout marks Cakir as having conceded 1.17 goals per 90 to 1.22 expected goals conceded per 90, giving him a net positive prevented goals of 0.05 per 90. Essentially, although coming off two of his poorer shot-stopping seasons, he has saved about slightly more than would be expected, on average, in his career to date.

This is backed up by the above scatterplot from StatsBomb that shows goals saved above average (their equivalent to Wyscout’s prevented goals) and goals conceded in last season’s Europa League. Although a much smaller sample, Cakir (circled in red) comes through just above what he would be expected to save here too.

Although not hitting his previous levels on this front recently, Cakir possesses the traits of a top shot-stopper. His physical attributes a certainly an advantage when it comes to his shot-stopping. His height combined with good agility and reflexes allows him to cover the goal effectively and he demonstrates excellent athleticism, enabling him to make acrobatic saves when required.

An example of this is shown below. Here, Cakir shows his athleticism to get down quickly and tip a well-struck effort from inside the box, that was heading for the bottom corner, around the post.

Below is another good example of him at his best when it comes to shot-stopping, this time from a corner. In this example, Cakir shows quick footwork to drop back onto his line as the corner comes in. Setting himself, he then shows outstanding reflexes and instincts to reach down and get a hand to a header from the opposition that looked destined to nestle in the bottom corner.

If there was one possible issue to pick with his shot-stopping, it may be that he does, on occasion, opt to parry the ball when he could attempt the catch. This is not uncommon in modern-day goalkeeping, especially with the movement generated on the ball now, but it can lead to the ball dropping back into a dangerous area. There have been a couple of occasions when Cakir has been culpable in this regard.  

One-on-one situations

When it comes to one-on-one situations, Cakir is exceptionally good. He demonstrates good timing of when to hold his depth and delay the attacker’s decision and then when to move quickly to narrow the angle. His clean footwork is also an asset for covering the ground quickly in these situations when he does then need to move in.

He is generally decisive in these scenarios and brave too. He spreads himself very well and maximises every inch of his 6ft 3in frame. An example from one of his recent appearances for his national side is shown below.

Here, the ball drops around the penalty box after the second phase of a set play. With the opposition player in the middle of the goal clearly favourite, Cakir is quick to move out and make what looks like a very good opportunity to score as difficult as possible.

Bravely throwing himself at the ball, he keeps his arms high for as long as possible as he spreads himself brilliantly. This allows him to get a hand to the clipped effort and deny a clear-cut opening.

Below is another example of Cakir’s prowess in one-on-one situations, this time from a Europa League match last season.

Again, he shows anticipation timing his move to come out and spread just as the attacker makes the movement to shoot on the angle as he breaks through Trabzonspor’s last line. Cakir’s athleticism sees him spread his legs to cover off a low shot and again he stays big, bravely standing up to block the attempt with his chest.


Just as Cakir is quick off his line to smother the opposition in one-v-ones, he is also willing when it comes to leaving his line to claim high balls and to sweep.  

He comes in at the fifth highest, of all Super Lig goalkeepers who have played seven or more games this season, for Wyscout’s Leaving Line metric (1.69 per 90). Wyscout defines their Leaving Line metric as an ‘attempt by the goalkeeper to actively play a high cross or a long aerial pass in the air, either to claim or to punch the ball’.

Celtic tend to hold a high line, especially domestically, so having the ability to sweep up in behind is important too. As seen in his one-on-ones, Cakir has good speed when coming off his line and this extends to his sweeping.

Below is an example of this. Here Cakir races out of the box to meet a ball over the top of the Trabzonspor defence. He then demonstrates good decision-making and composure, slowing himself down to calmly cushion a header to a teammate just to his right.  

He is also pretty adept at leaving his line to claim crosses. He shows bravery in this area of his game too and, given his stature, offers a good presence. Although he opts to punch on occasion, it is not excessive and when he catches he will then look to initiate a counterattack with a quick release, more often than not via a throw. Such as in the below example.

Here, after a clean catch from a corner, Cakir quickly moves through the traffic to get to the edge of his box and start a counterattack with a quick release to a teammate that takes out most of the opposition as they rush to get back into shape.


How a Celtic goalkeeper deals with the ball at their feet is potentially more important than any other part of their game, in an SPFL context anyway. Making saves is always going to be required but as already mentioned Hart has only had to contend with about two shots per game in the league this campaign. Contrast that to how much more he is involved on the ball where he has attempted, on average, just under 22 passes per 90 in the Scottish Premiership this season.

Short to medium passes are of course even more important given most of the Celtic goalkeeper’s on-ball actions are concentrated on helping facilitate build-up play – of Hart’s just under 22 passes per 90, only around two are classified as long passes by Wyscout.

The above graphic from Wyscout, which maps all of Cakir’s passes from open play in the last year, is therefore pretty encouraging in this regard. He appears fairly proficient with the ball at his feet, boasting a short pass accuracy percentage of 97.57 per cent.

He has only misplaced two of his 155 passes at 0-20m and just one of his 104 at 20-30m. His accuracy over longer distances, although always expected to be lower, is not great, only completing 64.5 per cent of his passes over 40m. Given he would only be tasked with playing a few of these passes a game this is not a huge issue.

He is more than competent when playing short to medium passes across the back, showing decent composure on the ball. Below is a good example of this. Here, Cakir receives the ball on his left from a teammate. Facing pressure on that side he takes a touch out of his feet on his right to open up the other side of the pitch.

Evading the pressure with his touch, he then clips a nicely weighted ball over the first line of the opposition to his full-back on the touchline.

There are examples where he doesn’t cope as well when put under pressure on the ball. Often in these situations, he will opt to go long where, as hinted at in the graphic, he is a bit erratic with that length of pass. There are a few examples of him being a bit careless on the ball too, such as the below from his most recent appearance for Turkey.

Here, straight from kick-off after conceding, Cakir receives the ball and then attempts a risky first-time pass through the middle of the pitch. He does break Austria’s first line of pressure but his pass is overhit and seized upon by the hosts who end up getting an effort on goal which Cakir redeems himself somewhat with a good save.

It was potentially the right idea but given the game state, having just conceded, and Austria looking to press high straight from the restart, perhaps not the best decision at that moment.

As seen towards the end of the preceding section, Cakir is adept at distributing through his throws, moving the ball out of his hands at speed.

He is accurate with these distributions too. As the above graphic, also from Wyscout, shows, 116 of his 121 throws over the last year have been successful. The map shows a lot of the successful ones at good distances too that start attacks such as the one seen in the example earlier.

The hand passes graphic here also includes Cakir’s xGChain (5.23). xGChain is a metric that assigns the xG value of a shot to every player that made any action in the attack that led to a shot. Cakir encouragingly comes in around the fourth/fifth highest here compared to his positional peers over the last year.

Overall, in terms of his distribution, Cakir would be solid at what would be asked of him on the domestic front. He is comfortable enough on the ball, certainly at those short to medium distances. However, there still may be a few question marks about how his distribution would scale when stressed on the European level.


Although not at the level he was a few seasons ago (possibly part of the reason he is now a realistic target), Cakir would be a statement signing by Celtic.

Capable of making those ‘big’ saves, Cakir showcases excellent athleticism and reflexes while his effectiveness in one-on-one situations and willingness to sweep off his line is impressive. A well-rounded goalkeeper, his distribution, particularly in short to medium passes, aligns with Celtic's style of play. He would more than likely offer solidity in build-up play from the back.

While there might be questions regarding his distribution under pressure and over longer distances, and his recent shot-stopping, Cakir's potential acquisition would undoubtedly be a huge upgrade, one that could be capable of providing stability in the Celtic goal for the seasons to come.

Still just 28, only just at the start of a goalkeeper’s peak years, he has the potential to refine his skills further too. With the right guidance and continued development, he could excel to another level again, one that previously attracted the interest of some of the biggest clubs in the Premier League. Celtic’s highly experienced goalkeeping coach Stevie Woods could well be just the man to do that for Cakir.

After a couple of underwhelming transfer windows, Celtic know they have much work to do this summer. Securing the signature of Cakir would mark a significant first step in that work.