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The Next Generation of the Turkish football

After the glories of the early 2000s the Turkish football movement is shining again

The Next Generation of the Turkish football After the glories of the early 2000s the Turkish football movement is shining again

On 29th October 1923, the ex Turkish general Mustafa Kemal Ataturk began a deep process of change in Turkey. Under the prime minister of the First Republic, the Country engaged in liberal and western policies, initiating a historic and innovative period for the nation. An authentic rebirth for Turkey and football came along as well, the most played and followed sport in the country. In 1923 the National team was founded, even though the ups and downs, the team, since the 2000s on affirms itself as a competitor onto the international panorama. Just think about the exploit of the World Cup of 2002 (do you remember the squad that scared Brazil and end at the third place?) or the incredible Euro Cup of 2008 (stopped at the quarter finals). 

Turkey is one of the most powerful and rich countries of the Mediterranean basin (7th Economic power in EU) and, even if not politically in Europe, its teams - like as well kazakis, Uzbeks and Israelis - join the European competitions. The relationship between Turkey and the rest of Europe is getting more intense in the last seasons with a noticeable input-output of players: many Turkish players play in Europe and many Champions from the old continent go play in the Süper Lig. This phenomenon has created a dialog often fruitful for both sides since European teams invest in young promising players, while Turkish teams have an important business around the European Jerseys. The phenomenon has started a new wave of talented Turkish players into the big scene of European football, young players - born in the 2000s o shortly before - that are inserted into the rooster of the big teams. From Turkish parents but not always born in Turkey, some of them are born in Germany, they decide to play for the Mannschaft (like Özil, Gündoğan, Emre Can, Demirbay) or others prefer to respond to the call from Turkey. 

Süper Lig is more and more a competitive championship, year after year is climbing up in the ranking (in the last years Besiktas and Galatasaray alternate every other year in winnings): sure enough it has been some years since Turkish teams intimidate Europe’s (Faith Terim lifting the UEFA Cup in 2000 with Galatasaray) but through the years, the level of the Süper Lig’s club has risen. Contracts and Sponsors are one of the most fruitful businesses in Turkey - that’s why they can guarantee heavy salaries like Sneijder and Van Persie, but the list of champions over thirty landed in recent years is almost infinite - and these finances are also improving the youth academies, from which come the various talents who are now ready to break into football that counts. But Turkey is a growing country in every sense, also and above all on social networks, the real great tool that allows us to get closer to what happens in those parts, between brilliant campaigns, catchphrases and viral videos that do nothing but do reflect the incredible passion of the Turks for local teams, not just the most titled.


In Italy

Juventus bought him for 18 million euros and he is already secured from the new coach Maurizio Sarri, Merih Demiral was one of the best defenders from last season of Serie A. At 21 years old the Turkish defender stored two goals in fourteen games in Italy, and the previous experiences narrate an interesting path: he grew up in the juvenile sector of Sporting Lisbon, he played for one season at home in Alanyaspor. He is security for Lucescu, the national trainer, who placed Demiral in the heart of the defense: the Turk is a modern defender, very good with his feet but with an old school style of pressing and timing that recall the style of the best players in the sector. Sarri, obviously, during the transfer-market wanted him to stay in Turin. 

Another promising talent is in the Capital, his name is Cengiz Ünder. He is a wing blossomed from Basaksehir born in ’97 and he made an impact during his first year in Rome under Di Francesco management. For the current Sampdoria’s manager, the Turk was a perfect player, capable to dribble and to come back, fast, So that he got used to filling in the defense. The last season was broken from muscular injuries, but the tricks of 'the Turkish Dybala', during his debut with AS Roma, are impressed in everybody’s memory. 

The left-handed attacking winger will find in Roma his compatriot Mert Çetin  the centre-back that the Giallorossi have just bought from the Turkish second division and precisely from Gençlerbirliği  while in Sassuolo has arrived another promising young defender, just 20 yo, Mert Müldür, a fleshing out of the Turkish colony in Serie A which also includes the AC Milan's Hakan Çalhanoğlu.

In Italy, cause the transfer to Lille, it won’t arrive one of the most important pieces of the next Turkish generation. Another class 1997. Yusuf Yazıcı is one of the most creative midfielders on display from last season, wherein 30 games with Trabzonspor he scored four goals. He is a player with hesitant dribbling and creative like no else back home, the boy has a noticeable physique and he can push the action till the goal line. Sometimes, it feels like he wants to do everything by himself: he retrieves the ball, dribbles, he drags the opponents around and then he finds the assist for his teammates, or he tries a free-kick from a distance; what’s impressive about this player - who can play as advance and defensive midfielder - is the easiness on how he can come up with spectacular plays. For Lazio, he has been a summer hit (it has been talked about for few weeks) but the Turkish couldn’t resist to the Champions League's attraction, and will also play together with the right-back Zeki Çelik. His goodbye left a big void among the Turkish fans.

Around Europe

After enchanting Villarreal with his play, Enes Ünal has been through a rough season. Last year was leased from the Amarillo Submarine to Ronaldo’s Valladolid, where he contributed to save the team from retrocession. Central forward, he is also born in 1997, Unal has been for month the hype of many in Europe: it was collected from Manchester City in 2015, he passed from NAC Breda to then explode in Twente (18 scores in one season of Eredivisie) he then tried the rising in Spain, where he made it on time to play for Levante. Unal, has hits of talent, a player that has his vision but he cannot express it at the best of his quality: probably is just a matter of time.

After a long praising from Milan, Ozan Kabak is sure that he is not going to play in Italy, a defender born in 2000 has been purchased by Shalke 04. Good feet and a big physique, Kabak is a modern defender good in anticipating, and he comes from still wounded retrocession.

Raised within the Galatasary youth sector, he played the last season for Stuttgart of Bundesliga championship, without succeeded in saving the team from the sink into Zweite Liga. Shalke has picked him for 15 million euros and during the pre-season, the manager David Wagner put him into the heart of the official defense already.

The defense seems to be the best department so far if we consider another pilar from the national team of Lucescu, he is class 1996 Cağlar Söyüncü, who left Germany, Freiburg precisely, to land in Leicester last year. No matter the performance in England, which it did reach the highest level - only six presences in one season - the splendors of Bundesliga are still echoing in Turkey, So much that the calls for the national team have reached 24. In the last year, Söyüncü has encountered several struggles, but the robust centre-back (185cm tall) is still considered one of the strongest players of the Turkish generation. The sale of Maguire has has favored his entry in the starting lineup and he took a short time to show off as a protagonist: he was the MVP of the match against Chelsea.

Other two interesting profiles are Berkay Özcan and Berke Özer: the first one has recently passed by Stuttgart, before moving to Hamburg; a fast and dynamic advance midfielder with an unnatural inclination for dribbling, he was born in Germany in 1998 from Turkish parents, he decided to claim his Turkish nationality and play with the National team from Ankara.

Özer instead is a goalkeeper, he comes from one of the most fruitful academies of the country, Alinordu’s academy, and he recently left Fenerbahce to gain experience in Belgium: on his side, there’s also the passport that signs 25th May 2000.


Süper Lig

Generally, football is a rising movement. After the missed qualification to Russia World Cup 2018, the national team managed by ex Shakthar Donetsk Mircea Lucescu has (almost) known only victories. In 2019, the qualification games to the Euro Cup, the Turks have stored five win in a row interrupted by the last loss against Iceland. Above all, it sparks the winning against France, the last World Cup winner, defeated 2-0 in Konya thanks to the scores of Ünder and Ayhan. The national team from Ankara is a functional mix of players at the high of their age (like Milan’s player Hakan Çalhanoğlu of barely 25 years old, and Cenk Tosun, landed in Premier League at 27 years old) and many other young promises, which hope on day to be taken into the elite of the European football.

In Turkey, as we said before, money isn’t a problem, at the end of the 90s the big plan for modernization has distinguished the country, today it reflects on the football infrastructures as well.

From 2009 till now 21 new stadiums have been built and 17 are scheduled to construction in the following three years. Some of them like the Istanbul's Vodafone Arena, the venue that host Besiktas home games that have already host the 2019 European Super Cup, and as we already know some of them are impenetrable, and often sold out. 

The economy of Turkish football is the same as the European one (the first is out from the big tournament) and the prime minister Erdogan, is the biggest football fan - he even owns a team, Istanbul Başakşehir, which in the last years has been closed to win the national title - and he is working to make the national league be a part of the elite. In Süper Lig they put a block on foreigners (only four can play in the beginning layout) and for this reason, besides regulating a phenomenon that had gone too far in the last years, it wants to highlight the local youth. 

The ones that migrate to Europe wish that one day they will be back in Turkey to play for the top teams.