Last season’s Super Lig was one of the most exciting for many years, partly because of its unpredictability. For large parts of the campaign it really did seem as if Sivasspor would claim the title and break the monopoly of the big Istanbul clubs. If that had happened it would have been an earth shattering event for the Turkish game. In the end Besiktas came through to take the title, but the pain for Istanbul was still evident as Galatasaray and Fenerbahce both did appallingly.
Both Galatasaray and Fenerbahce have new coaches and have invested in talent once again to try to ensure last season does not repeat itself. There is also quality further down the league and no-one can take anything for granted. It looks like the excitement will continue!
The Lions of Istanbul have strengthened their squad with players like Abdul Kader Keita (Lyon), Elano (Manchester City) and keeper Leo Franco (Atletico Madrid). If these new recruits can gel with the likes of Arda Turan, Harry Kewell and Milan Baros then there is no doubt Galatasaray will be very strong up front.
New coach Frank Rijkaard will oversee the changes and prepare for his first season in the Super Lig. Letting troublesome Lincoln leave was a wise move by the Gala board. The Brazilian stepped over the line on one too many occasions and the squad should be more settled without him.
Galatasaray’s defence was a huge problem last year, but the arrival of Gokhan Zan from local rivals Besiktas should go some way towards addressing this.
With the signing of some more big names, including the coach, hopes are high that the Lions can reclaim the league title and perhaps even cause a surprise in Europe. Few would bet against it.
Last season: 5th
Key arrivals: Elano (Manchester City) Abdul Kader Keita (Lyon), Leo Franco (Atletico Madrid), Gokhan Zan (Besiktas), Mustafa Sarp (Bursaspor)
Key departures: Lincoln (released)
Last season Sivasspor managed to claim the runners-up spot behind Besiktas and it was an great achievement for the club to finish above heavyweights such as Trabzonspor, Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe. This time around however, the way to the top will be much harder to climb, especially as the club lost important first team players like Pini Balili, Mohamed Ali, Herve Tum and Bilica.
Sivasspor’s recent game against Anderlecht in the Champions League perhaps underlined the problems the Turkish runners-up will face, although the 5-0 away defeat can be put down to a lack of experience. If Sivasspor can manage to qualify for the Europa League however then it is possible they could still surprise in Europe.
The key man this season will surely be captain and star striker Mehmet Yildiz. He means a lot to the club’s fans and coach Bulent Uygun. Signed to partner him is tall forward Ersen Martin, who should bring experience to the frontline having played with Recreativo in Spain for the past two seasons. Further new transfers include 21 year-old Nigerian Akeem Agbetu and Yasin Cakmak.
With a weaker side finishing in the top six would be something to celebrate.
Last season: 2nd
Key arrivals: Ersen Martin (Recreativo), Yasin Cakmak (Fenerbahce), Erman Kilic (Istanbul BB), Akeem Agbetu (FC Midtjylland)
Key departures: Pini Balili (Antalyaspor), Bilica (Fenerbahce), Herve Tum (Istanbul BB)
İstanbul Büyükşehir Belediyesi
A small team from Istanbul that attracts much sympathy, but that was surely a nightmare for the big three last season. Six new players have arrived to improve the side and importantly all six were first-teamers at their previous clubs. A good sign.
One of the new recruits is Taner Gulleri, a 33 year-old striker who bagged four in a match against Galatasaray last season. Herve Tum from Sivasspor is considered another important transfer; the 30 year-old Cameroonian has plenty of experience in Turkish league football.
Young talented manager Abdullah Avci will be looking to continue their path to improvement and with the advantage of working with much the same team for the past two seasons, Istanbul BB should be able to reach the top half of the league once again. A European spot? It is possible.
Last season: 9th
Key arrivals: Taner Gulleri (Kocaelispor), Herve Tum (Sivasspor), Kanfory Sylla (Sivasspor), Mazuwa Nsumbu (Kocaelispor)
Key departures: Razundara Tijikuzu (Trabzonspor)
Surely one of the most surprising teams from last season was Ankaraspor. Boss Aykut Kocaman can take much credit for their incredible performance, and losing him to Fenerbahce, where he has taken the job of sporting director, was a bitter blow.
The new man in charge is German Jurgen Rober, who will need to address defensive problems immediately as the club sold arguably their three most important defenders. Erhan Guven left for Besiktas, whilst Fredrik Risp and Radoslav Batak have departed as well. At the time of writing no new defenders have yet arrived. Worrying indeed.
Two new signings do give some hope for the capital club though. Aydin Karabulut and Ilhan Parlak were both playing for Besiktas and Fenerbahce respectively, where understandably they did not enjoy much playing time. Ankaraspor represents a huge opportunity for them to shine.
With a strong forward line including Neca, Tita and Mehmet Cakir, it seems Ankaraspor will not struggle up front, but defence looks like the main problem area.
Last season: 10th
Key arrivals: Aydin Karabulut (Besiktas), Ilhan Parlak (Fenerbahçe)
Key departures: Antonio de Nigris (Ankaragucu), Ozer Hurmaci (Fenerbahçe), Erhan Guven (Besiktas), Fredrik Risp (Stabek), Radoslav Batak (Antalyaspor)
The failure of former Spain coach Luis Aragones to successfully mount a title challenge eventually cost him his Fenerbahçe job. The new arrival is actually an old man, a former Fener boss, Christoph Daum.
By the time Daum signed with the club the majority of transfers involving Turkish players had already been completed. Daum made just two moves in the market, snapping up two Brazilians, Andre Santos and Cristian. In this sense it can be said the squad is not of the German coach’s choosing.
Perhaps the highest profile arrival at the Yellow Canaries is Turkish international Mehmet Topuz. The star made a hugely controversial choice of Fenerbahçe over Besiktas. How he settles in his new team could be a key factor in the club’s success.
Fenerbahçe are focused on taking the title and it is to this end that Daum was brought back to Istanbul. Daum knows the league and he knows what it takes to lift the Super Lig trophy. Combined with the excellent relationship he enjoys with president Aziz Yildrim, the German was the perfect appointment, at least on paper.
Last season: 4th
Key arrivals: Andre Santos (Corinthians), Cristian (Corinthians), Mehmet Topuz (Kayserispor), Bilica (Sivasspor), Bekir Irtegun (Gaziantepspor)
Key departures: Josico (Las Palmas), Maldonado (released), Ilhan Parlak (Ankaraspor), Diego Lugano (released), Yasin Cakmak (Sivasspor)
Perhaps what Ankaragucu are best known for this summer is their sensational signing from the English Premier League, Darius Vassell. Vassell is a gift for the club’s fans in its centenary year and without a doubt his arrival has made the Ankaragucu faithful excited. However, he may find himself surrounded by players that are nowhere near the level of those he is used to playing with, and that could prove to be a problem.
Ankaragucu lost some important stars this summer, but they still have a defence which is above average for the league. New signings Kagiso Senamela and Calvin Sasibo could be the dark horse talents of the Turkish Super Lig. Both South Africans are internationals and will be desperate to make an impression ahead of next year’s World Cup.
Coach Hikmet Karaman knows the league and has a reputation of getting the most out of the resources at his disposal. In their 100th year the 49 year-old could create a surprise to remember.
Last season: 13th
Key arrivals: Koray Colgencen (Kayserispor), Cihan Haspolatli (Konyaspor), Kagiso Senamela (Golden Arrows), Calvin Sasibo (Bidwest Wits), Darius Vassell (Manchester City), Antonio de Nigris (Ankaraspor)
Key departures: none
Another capital city team, and one that only managed to hold onto Super Lig status on the very last game of the season. It is hard to believe now, but in the early 2000s Genclerbirligi were fighting at the other end of the table, for the title itself.
For this season a new coach is in place, German legend Thomas Doll. The former Bundesliga man has great experience in the dugout, having bossed both Dortmund and Hamburg, and will be hoping to make a splash in Turkey.
On the pitch it is all change, understandably after last season. 16 players have departed and 10 have arrived. The number one jersey has been given to Serdar Kulbilge from relegated Kocaelispor, former Galatasaray and Fenerbahce man Stjepan Thomas has returned to Turkish football from Rubin Kazan and Tolga Seyhan, Orhan Sam and Murat Kalkan have all rejoined the club.
Attack is probably the weakest part of this Genclerbirligi team, but if Ibrahim Sahin and Kahe can get their fair share then the capital city team should be okay.
Last season: 14th
Key arrivals: Stjepan Thomas (Rubin Kazan), Serdar Kulbilge (Kocaelispor)
Key departures: Umit Tutunci (Gaziantepspor)
The team from the black sea coast have not made too many transfers after a decent campaign last season. All too often they struggled with the pressure of expectation at home, and were perhaps better away.
Captain Huseyin Cimsir has departed for Bursaspor, but in his place has come Razundara Tijikuzu from Istanbul BB, a good replacement. Whilst Nigerian Isaac Promise has also left, goals will not be a problem for Belgian boss Hugo Broos. With Gokhan Unal, Umut Bulut, Ibrahima Yattara, Alanzinho and Zafer Yelen there is such creativity and attacking power within the side.
So few moves in and out can only be good for Trabzonspor. A settled side will help Broos to try to take the club to their first title since 1984. They could just spring a shock.
Last season: 3rd
Key arrivals: Razundara Tijikuzu (Istanbul BB)
Key departures: Huseyin Cimsir (Bursaspor)
Sivasspor apart Bursaspor produced the biggest surprise of last season when finishing in sixth spot, just below giants Galatasaray. In fact, they almost pipped Cim Bom to the last European place. This year they will hope to go one better.
With young boss Ertugrul Saglam staying on (after arriving from Besiktas mid-season) they have every chance of once again enjoying a great campaign. This summer seven players have arrived and 12 have departed. Of the arrivals Huseyin Cimsir, Tomas Zapotocny and Turgay Bahadir seem the most important additions and should all fit into the coach’s plans nicely.
One to watch out for is surely starlet Sercan Yildrim. Big things are expected of the 19 year-old striker and he has been tipped to leave Turkey sooner rather than later.
Last season: 6th
Key arrivals: Huseyin Cimsir (Trabzonspor), Tomas Zapotocny (Besiktas), Turgay Bahadir (Kayserispor)
Key departures: none
Kayserispor started the summer with a bang, bringing in two talented African players from the English Premier League. Saloman Olembe and Julius Aghahowa both arrived from Wigan Athletic and this was a huge coup. Both signings have gone some way towards making the fans forget about the hole Gokhan Unal’s departure had left in the side.
Losing Ragip Basdag from the midfield will be a blow, but the arrival of Gokhan Emreciksin from Fenerbahce can go some way towards relieving this. Emreciksin will be relishing the chance to shine in a first team once again. In Istanbul Luis Aragones didn’t provide the midfielder with many chances and here he can prove his worth.
Last season: 7th
Key arrivals: Saloman Olembe (Wigan), Julius Aghahowa (Wigan), Gokhan Emreciksin (Fenerbahce)
Key departures: Ragip Basdag (Eskisehirspor)
Eskişehirspor are a popular club amongst fans in Turkey, neutrals love them and almost everyone hopes they will survive in the Super Lig. One of the reasons for this is surely the excitement they bring to the league. Attack seems to be the only thing they know and this has been strengthened this year with the arrival of Souleymane Youla on a permanent basis after a loan spell.
Perhaps the key transfer though, and certainly the highest profile, is Umit Karan, fresh from giants Galatasaray. Mehmet Yilmaz from Ankaragucu and Burak Yilmaz from Fenerbahce are the two who will help them to be dominant in the air too, whilst Ragip Basdag will bring experience to the midfield. Coach Riza Calimbay hasn’t lost many players and if he can get the new forwards working well together then there is sure to be fireworks once again from Eskişehirspor.
Last season: 11th
Key arrivals: Ragip Basdag (Kayserispor), Umit Karan (Galatasaray), Mehmet Yilmaz (Ankaragucu), Burak Yilmaz (Fenerbahce)
Key departures: none
The team from the south west of Turkey sprung a big surprise with their performance last season. Finishing 8th was a huge achievement and players like Brazilians Rodrigo Tabata and Beto were key to this. Despite losing five players this summer only two of them were important first-teamers. Bekir Irtegun and Ismail Koybasi’s departure will no doubt be a blow, but those promoted from the youth team combined with the newcomers can replace them.
Gaziantepspor’s defence looks strong with former Real Madrid man Julio Cesar leading a defence that includes Ivan de Souza, Armand Deumi and Serdar Kurtulus. The midfield needed no reinforcements whatsoever and some pundits have gone on record as saying it can be one of the best in the league. Murat Ceylan, experienced winger Mehmet Yozgatli, creative talent Tabata and Argentine Zurita should be a match for anyone, the Istanbul clubs included.
Where players have arrived is in attack. Another Julio Cesar has been brought in, with Tevik Kose and Umit Tutunci. If new boss Portuguese Jose Couceiro can get everyone working together than a European spot is by no means out of the question.
Last season: 8th
Key arrivals: Julio Cesar (AEK Athens), Tevfik Kose (Leverkusen), Umit Tutunci (Genclerbirligi)
Key departures: Bekir Irtegun (Fenerbache), Ismail Koybasi (Besiktas)
The little team of Istanbul returned to the Super Lig immediately via the playoff system. On route they knocked out two big Izmir teams, Altay and Kasimpasa. Even so, the club management was under no illusions that the team needed strengthening and 11 new players have arrived. Amongst this mishmash of newcomers is indeed one standout player, Nourdin Boukhari.
With so many new recruits the team could take time to work well together. And new faces are no guarantee of Super Lig survival.
Last season: 4th (1. League)
Key arrivals: Nourdin Boukhari (NAC Breda)
Key departures: none
The champions could not have started the summer in a worse way than the disappointment of Mehmet Topuz snubbing them at the last minute for rivals Fenerbahçe. As if this was not bad enough it was then followed by the loss of Gokhan Zan to Galatasaray. However, these blows made the Black Eagles determined to give their fans something to cheer and cheer they did as striker Nihat arrived back from Spain.
Edouard Cisse’s exit from the club will leave a hole in the midfield, but Besiktas are confident German Michael Fink is the man to fill it. He should slot in alongside his impressive countryman Fabian Ernst, who is critical to everything Besiktas do.
Defensive talents Ismail Koybasi, Erhan Guven and Ridvan Simsek have also arrived, and Koybasi especially can make his presence felt almost immediately as he is a huge talent. Italian defender Matteo Ferrari is another signing and an expensive one at that.
Expectations are high, and rightly so. A forward line of Bobo, Filip Holosko and Nihat should scare most defences in the league.
Last season: 1st
Key arrivals: Nihat (Villarreal), Michael Fink (Eintracht Frankfurt), Ismail Koybasi (Gaziantepspor), Erhan Guven (Ankaraspor), Ridvan Simsek (Karsiyaka)
Key departures: Gokhan Zan (Galatasaray), Edouard Cisse (Marseille)
Tipped by many people to go down last season, Antalyaspor managed to stay in the league. Boss Mehmet Ozdilek arrived just after the start of the campaign and transformed their fortunes. Unfortunately for him the hardest work may lie ahead as keeping the team up for one more season may prove even more difficult.
The squad has been strengthened however, with Pini Balili, a big signing from Sivasspor. Veysel Cihan has also arrived from Konyaspor along with Kerim Zengin and Gurhan Gursoy from Fenerbahçe. Maynor Suzao has left, but the signing of Balili more than makes up for this.
All in all though a favourite for relegation.
Last season: 12th
Key arrivals: Pini Balili (Sivasspor), Veysel Cihan (Konyaspor), Kerim Zegin (Fenerbahce), Gurhan Gursoy (Fenerbahce), Radoslav Batak (Ankaraspor)
Key departures: Maynor Suazo (released)
Staying up last season with their very last breath it could be hard for them to do so again. The key difficulty is that Denizlispor’s rivals have strengthened whilst they have seemingly got weaker.
The club’s most important signing so far is 30 year-old Murat Hacioglu from Kocaelispor. All in all 13 players have left and 13 have signed. Making them all work together in an effective unit is the nightmare job facing coach Erhan Altin. It is very hard to see them surviving.
Last season: 15th
Key arrivals: Murat Hacioglu (Kocaelispor)
Key departures: none
Back in the Super Lig the first thing Manisaspor did was to change their coach, and Mesut Bakkal has entered the dugout. Important first team players like Ferhat Oztorun, Muhammet Hafifi and Tolga Dogantez have all left, but their replacements look on the whole like a better bunch.
Liberia international Jimmy Dixon could be a surprise performer in this season’s Super Lig, but one area of the side where Manisaspor won’t have to worry is in attack. There is simply an abundance of riches up front, with Nigerian Isaac Promise, newly arrived from Trabzonspor, perhaps the pick of them. With such talent Mesut Bakkal can surely keep them up.
Last season: 1st (1. League)
Key arrivals: Isaac Promise (Trabzonspor), Jimmy Dixon (Malmo)
Key departures: Ferhat Oztorun (Trabzonspor), Tolga Dogantez (Ankaragucu)
Another team newly promoted to the Super Lig, this time after an absence of four years. Supporters will pack out their stadium for Super Lig football and that can only be a good thing.
After promotion they shipped out 18 players and brought in 14 replacements, mostly with Super Lig experience. New boss Ziya Dogan is one of the most experience coaches in the league and if he can’t mould all the new signings together then no-one can.
The most important arrivals are surely Adrinao from Istanbul BB and Andres Mendoza, the Peru international.
Signing so many players makes it difficult to know what to expect, but Ziya Dogan is a good manager and they should survive.
Last season: 2nd (1. League)
Key arrivals: Adrinao (Istanbul BB), Andres Mendoza (Monarcas Morelia)
Key departures: none