As you have probably noticed the Turkish Lira is not doing too well. Additionally Financial Fair Play regulations and the Turkish Football Federation bringing in new regulations to hold clubs into account over their spending have resulted in a summer of austerity. Clubs have tightened their belts and focused on loan moves and free transfers. One welcome side effect however, has been Super Lig sides newfound willingness to take a chance on young players.
Galatasaray head into the new season as the obvious favorites. They have more or less the same title-winning squad, managed by club legend Fatih Terim. After a controversial spell at the national team ending with a punchup at a kebab house the ‘Emperor’ returned to his kingdom mid-way through the season replacing imposter to the throne Igor Tudor and managed to avoid getting skewered again as he guided his beloved Red-Yellow to the league title for a record 21st time. This is very much the same team, Jason Denayer is back at Manchester City following the end of his loan move but could end up returning. And 21-year-old Everton forward Henry Onyekuru joined on loan. The Lions have promoted 18-year-old Yunus Akgun from the reserves in addition to a few other academy players who could find themselves given a rare opportunity considering the lack of transfer activity.
In theory the Lions are the strongest side in the league. This is a continuation of the championship squad. But they did not look convincing in the Super Cup Final against Akhisar, which they lost on penalties. The defence does not look watertight. And Champions League football could take its toll. Despite a few question marks, there is no denying that Galatasaray are in a better position than their opposition.
The motto appears to be, sell, sell, sell. Fikret Orman has done a tremendous job turning around the fortunes of the club. He has raised €84.75m from transfers since taking charge in 2012. A figure that could still rise should they sell Domagoj Vida and Alvaro Negredo but considering the Premier League transfer window has end that is starting to look increasingly unlikely. Fabri has been sold to Fulham, Anderson Talisca is no more, neither is Dusko Tosic.
The problem is nobody has been brought in as replacements. Besiktas have lost a lot of blood. There is still time to get a few transfers over the line but the season will be long underway by then.
The Black Eagles will need Senol Gunes to work his magic this season. He has pulled off miracles with weaker squads in the past. They did bring in 19-year-old Guven Yalcin from Bayer Leverkusen and there is Canada international Cyle Larin who he could potentially develop. It would not be the first time he has taken players that nobody had expectations for and transformed them into stars. Burak Yilmaz, Fernandao, Cenk Tosun are just a few examples.
Out with the old, in with the new. Ali Koc replaced the longest serving club president in Fenerbahce history, Aziz Yildirim, over the summer.
Koc has made radical changes to turn around his beloved club currently in debut to the tune of €621m after years of mismanagement. Former PSV manager, Phillip Cocu was appointed head coach. Damien Comolli has been given the role of sporting director. The club are targeting young players as opposed to former star names way over their prime. The club has invested in scouting, academies and youth development.
Eighteen-year-old Elif Elmas is playing first-team football. 18-year-old goalkeeper Berke Ozer and the 21-year-old winger Baris Alici joined from Altinordu. While 18-year-old wonderkid Ferdi Kadioglu was snapped up from NEC.
Fenerbahce have embarked on a progressive project on the path towards footballing enlightenment. Patience, is my main concern with Fenerbahce. The big question is what happens if the Fenerbahce project does not go immediately go to plan? And there is the possibility it won’t. After all, the club is in transition with a new manager, new leadership, new coaches, new staff.
The club nobody seems to be talking about is Basaksehir. The Istanbul side without any fans continue to irritate the traditional order. After narrowly missing out on the league title for the past two seasons they are back. Abdullah Avci has kept his squad intact and is more than likely to be involved in the title race yet again. The team has lacked experience in the past but not anymore with Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Arda Turan and Emre Belozoglu.
Trabzonspor boss Unal Karaman is an interesting character. Apart from Casa de le Papel inspired training sessions involving players being given code names based on major cities like in the popular Spanish hit show, he also has developed a name for giving young players opportunities. 21-year-old Yusuf Yazici and 19-year-old Abdulkadir Omur have the chance to help the Black Sea based side spring a surprise. They have the ability to cause more than a few problems. Keep a close eye on Omur. I would be surprised to see him move to a Top 5 side by next summer.
It is great to have Ankaragucu back in the top-flight after years in the wilderness. With Goztepe also in the Super Lig, Istanbul, Izmir and Ankara will all have a representative this season but I see the title-race being dominated by the most populous city in the country yet again.
The 2018-19 Super Lig season has been named after Turkey national team and Fenerbahce legend Lefter Küçükandonyadis. But Turkish top-flight will not be looking to the past this term. There is a clear trend towards youth, which I must admit has not come about entirely through choice. Galatasaray remain the team to beat. Fenerbahce are the surprise package. Besiktas may have to rely on Gunes’ pulling off his greatest trick yet. And Basaksehir will be in the mix for the title too, among their noisy neighbors, refusing to go away.