As the end of the season beckons across Europe, it is time for us at Outside of the Boot to recognize the accomplishments of tomorrow’s stars under our Talent Radar banner, with the U-22 Team of the Season across each individual top leagues being featured for the fourth consecutive year. This feature looks at the best of the Turkish Super Lig.
[Eligibility: As of 1st June 2016 – 21 years old and below for outfield players // 22 years old and below for goalkeepers]
Goran Karacic // Adanaspor // 19 // Goalkeeper: The life of a young goalkeeper involves always waiting for the right time to show up. Karacic, helping his team get a win and 3 draws in his 9 Super Lig appearances, took his chance well until his team transferred in old hand, Frenchman Charles Itandje in the winter break. Although Adanaspor has not been able to avoid relegation, the youngster with his size (1.96 cm height and 86 kg weight) and good reflexes has proved himself quite well and might have a place in another Super Lig side next season.
Levent Gülen // Kayserispor // 22 // Right Back: Gülen, after moving to Turkey from Grasshoppers in 2014, finally had the chance to prove himself this season and took it well appearing 26 times –mostly as a right-back- in Super Lig during this season. Gülen has played as a centre-back and left-back as well. Despite having failed to assist his teammates yet, he has showed up on the score sheet against Galatasaray and helped his team get a vital 1-2 win away. It seems that Gülen will enjoy more playing time in Super Lig next season after helping his team avoid relegation this season.
Ertuğrul Ersoy // Bursaspor // 19 // Centre Back: Bursaspor has been very productive recently in terms of introducing young talents into Turkish and European football. Ersoy, who appeared 17 times in Turkish Super Lig this season, has been a rising star although Green Alligators –former champion of the league- is not having the best season in its history. Despite being originally a central defender, the youngster has played 7 games as a right back as well this season, which proves his versatility. Having 1 red card and 4 yellow cards so far this season, discipline seems like the first problem Ersoy has to deal with. It will not be surprising to see him in İstanbul or somewhere in Europe soon.
Ahmet Yılmaz Çalık // Galatasaray // 22 // Centre Back: After spending his youth career and five professional years at Gençlerbirliği, another youngster factory of Turkish football, Çalık joined Galatasaray this season in the winter-break. He has appeared 26 times combined and scored a goal for Gala against Bursaspor. His concentration and calmness must be mentioned as his strengths. Having already been called up for Turkish national team 8 times, Çalık has scored a goal for his country against Moldova and he is a powerful contestant to be the future permanent centre-back of both Gala and Turkey.
Dhurgham İsmail // Rizespor // 22 // Left Back: Despite his young age, İsmail has been playing as a professional player for 7 years. He has been called up for the Iraq national team 34 times already and scored 3 times. During this season, İsmail has had 29 appearances and has got 1 goal – 1 assist for Rizespor, a team currently fighting to avoid relegation. With his dribbling and tackling skill, the Iraqi national is without doubt a promising talent and many clubs will be interested in signing him at the end of the season if his team cannot survive the drop.
Okay Yokuşlu // Trabzonspor // 22 // Central Midfielder: Trabzonspor has shown great ambition and passion during the second half of the season and are currently fighting for a place to reserve a UEFA Europa League ticket. Yokuşlu, with his perfect physical condition and strength, has played a crucial role during the rise of his team. He has got two goals and two assists in 26 appearances in Super Lig so far and it is rumored that he is on the radar of European clubs.
Yusuf Yazıcı // Trabzonspor // 19 // Central Midfielder: Yazıcı is one of the best stories of Turkish Super Lig this season. He played his first game in Super Lig in December and after Mehmet Ekici, the crucial playmaker of the team, was left out of the squad, Yazici has become the playmaker of his team and has got 4 goals and 6 assists in Super Lig so far. He is seen as one of the most promising young talents of the league now and everyone is excited to witness his bright future.
Cengiz Ünder // Başakşehir // 18 // Winger: Ünder is a product of Altınordu, the rising football club and youngster factory of Turkey, which plays only with young Turkish players in the second division. Ünder joined Başakşehir in 2016 and has got 7 goals and 5 assists for his team, which is currently chasing Beşiktaş and fighting for the championship. With his strong crossing and shooting abilities, Ünder could be a world-class player very soon.
Bruma // Galatasaray // 21 // Winger: Bruma is arguably the best dribbler of Turkish Super Lig and has showed a sensational level of performance so far this season. Having scored 10 times and assisted 6 times, he has helped Gala reserve a Europe ticket for next season after completing a one-year penalty this season. Despite having some disciplinary problems, the youngster has the capacity to deal with that. The Portuguese national is linked with a number of Premier League clubs and would bring in a few million Euros for Gala this summer.
Anderson Talisca // Beşiktaş // 22 // Attacking Midfielder: Talisca, on loan from Benfica, has had a splendid season for Beşiktaş both in Turkey and in Europe. While his team is going for a second successive victory in Super Lig, the Brazilian youngster has scored 11 goals and made 2 assists. He has also helped his team reach the quarter-final in UEFA Europa League with 2 goals and 4 assists although they were eliminated by Olympique Lyonnais after penalties. It is rumored that the youngster will join a big European club next year after his great performance for the Black Eagles.
Riad Bajic // Konyaspor // 22 // Striker: Riad Bajic has appeared 23 times in Super Lig this season and scored 16 times for Konyaspor and also assisted his teammates twice. His height of 189 cm is another strength for the youngster and he is expected to join Fenerbahçe with his coach Aykut Kocaman next year. If not, a number of Bundesliga clubs are already in line to make a move for the Bosnian.