Football Features

11 familiar faces you might not have realised are playing in the Turkish Super Lig

By J Smith

Published: 15:30, 5 September 2023

There’s no league quite like the Turkish Super Lig.

At the top, you’ve got the Istanbul giants of Galatasaray, Fenerbahce and Besiktas mopping up all the fans, wealth and glory. Trabzonspor have had their day in the sun, too, completing the “big four” as they’re known in Turkey.

After that, it’s a series of clubs constantly jostling for position to get as close as possible to the aristocracy. In doing so, they make some truly spectacular moves in the transfer market, often dipping into the Premier League to bolster their squads as this summer has shown. We’ve seen the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Davinson Sanchez, Tanguy Ndombele and Hakim Ziyech all move from the Premier League to Turkey, and that’s just at one club!

But who else is there? Scrolling through the squads in the Turkish Super Lig could keep you occupied for hours but to save you a little time, we’ve picked out 11 familiar faces you might not have realised are playing there right now.

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1. Cedric Bakambu – Galatasaray

Galatasaray have signed so many players this summer it has been hard to keep track, which also means some names have fallen under the radar. One of those could be Cedric Bakambu, who left Olympiacos earlier this summer to Al-Nasr on a two-year contract. But, just a few weeks later, Bakambu was on the move again to Galatasaray on a two-year contract, joining their Champions League qualification campaign.

2. Joshua King – Fenerbahce

Fenerbahce were also busy in the summer, signing familiar names such as Fred, Dusan Tadic, Edin Dzeko and Ryan Kent. But one man already at the club is Joshua King. Now 31, the former Man Utd academy player joined from Watford last summer and has so far played 33 times for Fenerbahce across all competitions, scoring eight goals. More of a squad player now, King scored in qualifying to help Fenerbahce reach the Europa Conference League group stage.

3. Krzysztof Piatek – Istanbul Basaksehir

Another summer move that may have fallen under the radar, Krzysztof Piatek has called time on his stint in Europe’s top five leagues for now, moving over to Turkey’s capital. The Polish striker was once one of the most-wanted players in Europe after his blistering start to life at Genoa, but it has been quite a fall. Piatek was on the books at Hertha Berlin last season but spent the campaign on loan with Salernitana, netting just four goals in 33 games.

4. Nani – Adana Demispor

We’ll try to keep the summer transfers to a minimum, but this one was too big not to include. Surely not many of you have been tracking Nani’s movements over the past few years. Be honest, who thought he was still at Orlando? The former Man Utd man actually left Orlando in 2022 first for Venezia and then Melbourne Victory. But he is now in Turkey, signing for Adana Demispor, who narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Europa Conference League group stage, losing on penalties to Genk in the final round.

5. Steven Nzonzi – Konyaspor

Steven Nzonzi isn’t a stranger to Turkey, spending six months on loan at Galatasaray from Roma at the start of the 2019/20 campaign but he is now back in the country. After leaving Roma in 2021, via a loan spell with Rennes, Nzonzi spent two years with Al-Rayyan in Qatar. However, he has moved slightly closer to home now, signing for Konyaspor.

6. Britt Assombalonga – Antalyaspor

Another man with history in Turkey, Britt Assombalonga spent 18 months in the country with Adana Denispor having signed from Middlesbrough. In January, Assombalonga returned to England, signing for Watford but he scored just two goals in 15 games in the second half of the 2022/23 season. Obviously happier in Turkey, Assombalonga is back now, joining Antalyaspor on a one-year deal.

7. Papy Djilobodji – Gaziantep

One of Chelsea’s most bizarre moves pre-Todd Boehly, Pady Djilodobji played three minutes for the Blues after signing from Nantes. He spent half of his Chelsea career on loan at Werder Bremen and was sold to Sunderland, somehow, for a profit. After leaving Sunderland in 2018, Djilobodji spent some time in France with Guingamp before making his move to Turkey. The centre-back is now in his fifth season with Gaziantep, making over 100 apperances, though he did spend the second half of the 2022/23 campaign on loan at Kasimpasa.

8. Leroy Fer – Alanyaspor

A KNVB Cup winner and recipient of 11 caps for the Netherlands, Leroy Fer hasn’t necessarily had a bad career. But it’s certainly not lived up to the considerable potential we all saw in him as a youngster with Feyenoord. Nowadays, the former Norwich and Swansea man turns out for Alanyaspor, hitting 50 appearances last season.

9. Ahmed Musa – Sivasspor

Ahmed Musa is probably more famous for being an absolute demon on the dribble on FIFA rather than for his underwhelming spell at Leicester City. Musa left Leicester for Al-Nassr and moved on from the Saudi club in 2021, something that brought controversy a few months ago. Turning up in Turkey, Musa spent a year with Fatih Karagumruk but now plays for Sivasspor, yet to score in 25 appearances.

10. Clinton N’Jie – Sivasspor

Joining Musa at Sivasspor is former Tottenham player Clinton N’Jie, whose career continues to stagnate after the decision to leave Lyon for London. Following a loan and then permanent move to Marseille, N’Jie spent three years in Russia before joining Sivasspor last summer. In his debut campaign, N’Jie played 41 times across all competitions as Sivasspor reached the last 16 of the Europa Conference League.

11. Mame Biram Diouf – Goztepe

After 157 appearances across all competitions, Mame Biram Diouf finally left Stoke City in 2020 to join Hatayspor. His first season in Turkey was a complete success, scoring 19 goals in 38 Super Lig appearances to help the club finish sixth. In total, Diouf scored 31 goals in 75 games for Hatayspor, before moving on to Konyaspor last year. Spending one year with Konyaspor, Diouf scored a decent 10 goals in 29, joining Goztepe this summer.