Turkish Super Lig clubs getting smart with recruitment
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TransferRoom Stories

League Focus
Turkish Super Lig clubs getting smart with recruitment
by Jonathan Rest

Smart scouting and sensible expenditure on young players with significant resale value: there is a quiet evolution happening in Turkish football.

Our primary target is to transform Turkish football, into a better structure that educates and develops elite football players and make Turkey a leading power in Europe and the world.
Turkish Football Federation

A look at the 10 most expensive inbound transfers of the summer in Turkey makes for interesting reading. 

 

Firstly, there’s no household names in the list and secondly seven of the 10 are aged 24 and under. 

 

Galatasaray led the way, buying highly-rated Danish defender Victor Nelsson from FC Copenhagen for €7m, and spending around €10m to bring young Romanian internationals Alexandru Cicaldu and Olimpiu Moratan (pictured - credit Galatasaray) to Istanbul.

 

There were some high-profile loans, Barcelona’s Miralem Pjanic and Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi both to Besiktas, but also Gustavo Assunção to Galatasaray, which will have an option to buy the 21-year-old for €4m from Famalicão next summer. More sensible planning. 

 

 

Player

Age

From

To

Fee (€)

Victor Nelsson

22

FC Copenhagen 

Galatasaray

7m

Alexandru Cicaldau

24

Universitatea Craiova

Galatasaray

6.5m

Mbwana Samatta

28

Aston Villa

Fenerbahçe

6m

Andreas Cornelius

28

Parma

Trabzonspor

5.1m

Mergin Berisha

23

RB Salzburg

Fenerbahçe

5m

Berkan Kutlu

23

Alanyaspor

Galatasaray

4m

Olimpiu Moratan

22

FSCB

Galatasaray

3.5m

Kim Min-Jae

24

Beijing Guoan

Fenerbahçe

3m

Rachid Ghezzal

29

Leicester City

Besiktas

3m

Benjamin Tetteh

24

Sparta Prague

Yeni Malatyspor

2m

 

The catalysts for change

 

Spiralling debts and the collapse of the lira, coupled with the lasting financial effects of the coronavirus pandemic, meant change was needed during the summer transfer window, which closed in Turkey on September 8.

 

Indeed, even before the coronavirus struck, Super Lig teams were collectively around $2.6 billion in debt, with most of that belonging to Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray and Besiktas, as well as Trabzonspor. 

 

Largely it was the consequence of years of financial mismanagement, in which Turkey’s major teams bought high and sold low, paying large salaries, often in euros, to veteran, imported stars. 

 

In 2020, the Super Lig had the oldest average age of 31 European leagues, according to the CIES Football Observatory. 

 

Change takes time, but it is clear it is happening, with more Turkish clubs engaging in smart recruitment techniques and engaging in direct communication with European clubs.

 

Indeed, in the last few weeks, Super Lig club Goztepe and TFF First League club Altinordu have joined the TransferRoom platform.

 

long_blue-1

 

Financial oversight

 

There was a double regulatory factor at play for Turkish clubs in this window. 

 

Firstly, this season clubs in the top-flight are permitted to sign up to 14 foreign players, and field a maximum of eight in the starting 11 on the pitch,  as part of a longer-term plan to develop domestic talent.

 

In addition, Super Lig clubs were restricted by the amount they could spend, with the Turkish Football Federation club licensing board having determined the expense limits for transfer fees and wages earlier this year.

 

The TFF said at the time: "Our primary target is to transform Turkish football, into a better structure that educates and develops elite football players and make Turkey a leading power in Europe and the world."

 

Galatasaray were permitted to spend the most, with a TL 546m (€52.4m) limit, so it is no surprise to see they account for four of the 10 most expensive signings, followed by Fenerbahçe with a limit of TL 497m. Reigning champions Besiktas were allowed to spend TL 386m, with their major outlay being to bring Algerian international Rachid Ghezzal back to the club following a successful loan spell last season.

 

TransferRoom Insights

 

Based on data analysed over the past five seasons, TransferRoom can reveal that Italy's Serie A, France's Ligue 1 and the English Premier League have been the Super Lig's biggest international trading partners.

 

The relationship with the Premier League is very one-way, with 93% of players going from England to Turkey. With Serie A and Ligue 1, 70% and 76% of those transfers, respectively, are into Turkey.

 

In terms of exports, the Saudi Arabia Pro League tops the list, with 16 players having moved from the Super Lig over the past five seasons.

 

It is no surprise, therefore, that the Super Lig has received the most net income in that timeframe from Saudi Arabia (€54m), compared with €32m from Serie A and €22m from the Bundesliga.

 

In terms of expenditure,  around €27m has gone to Turkey's second-tier 1. Lig (68% of all transfers in Turkey are domestic, above the European league average of 58%), followed by €18m to Brazil's Serie A and €15m to the Primeira Liga in Portugal.

 

That all results, over a five-year period, of a negative cash flow of €23m on a total of €359m traded, highlighting the league's recent desire to curb spending.

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