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The success of the Premier League players in the Turkish Super Lig


A banner that read: “Welcome to hell” framed one of the first interactions between the new Premier League and the Turkish Super Lig.

However, in the nearly three decades since Manchester United were knocked out of the European Cup by Galatasaray, there has been a constant flow of personnel filtering from one division to another without the need to consult Hades.

With Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil set to join those ranks, here’s a look at the fortunes that have plagued some of the Premier League’s notable departures.

Samir Nasri didn’t last long after being introduced to Antalyaspor fans | AFP / Getty Images contributor

Barely five months after starting a two-year deal with Antalyaspor, the former Manchester City midfielder parted ways with the Turkish squad in January 2018.

Nasri has scored twice in his eight appearances, but was subsequently banned from the sport for 18 months for doping violation.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig"Trabzonspor AS v Besiktas AS"
Daniel Sturridge has scored seven goals in 16 games for Trabzonspor | VI-Images / Getty Images

Sturridge made at least six months to a three-year deal before mutually terminating his contract with Trabzonspor in March 2020.

The former Liverpool striker then received a ban on the game.

13, unlucky for some. But not Aaron Lennon.

13 appearances in his Kayserispor career, Lennon ultimately won his first game for the club. It’s still early days for the former Tottenham and Burnley winger, but so far Lennon has as many red cards as he has assists.

UEFA Europa League - "Fenerbahce SK v Molde FK"
Raul Meireles won three national trophies with Fenerbahce | VI-Images / Getty Images

As one of the most expensive Premier League arrivals in Turkey, Meireles’ involvement waned as his time in Istanbul extended.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea midfielder later admitted that he had lost his “passion and enthusiasm” for the sport in his last two seasons.

Robin van Persie scored 16 goals in his first season with Fenerbahce | AFP / Getty Images contributor

Van Persie may have managed to make some noise a few weeks after moving to Fenerbahce in 2015, but the Dutch forward has enjoyed a goal-rich first campaign.

Unfortunately, it was a case of diminishing returns afterwards and Van Persie canceled his contract in the middle of his third season to return to Feyenoord.

UEFA Europa League - "Fenerbahce SK v Molde FK"
Nani enjoyed his ‘beautiful days at Fenerbahce’ so much that he hinted at a return to the club which did not materialize | VI-Images / Getty Images

It may have been brief, but Nani’s unique campaign left an impression on the player and the club’s fan base as he racked up double digits for goals and assists in 2015/16.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig"Medipol Basaksehir FK v Caykur Rizespor AS"
Martin Skrtel is sort of a spookier proposition with a head of cropped hair | VI-Images / Getty Images

One of the many former Premier League stars scattered throughout the title-winning, state-backed Basaksehir Martin Skrtel continued to deploy his robust approach to defense but – to make it even more annoying – l did with full hair.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig"Trabzonspor AS v Besiktas AS"
Alexander Sorloth finished top scorer in the Turkish top flight and Turkish Cup in 2019/20 | VI-Images / Getty Images

At the end of a sensational individual campaign for loaned Crystal Palace Alexander Sorloth in 2019/20, the Norwegian leader finished top scorer in the Super Lig and scored 33 goals in all competitions.

This season, Palace has scored just 30.

Emmanuel Eboue had a period of mixed fortunes with Galatasaray between 2011 and 2014
Emmanuel Eboue had a period of mixed fortunes with Galatasaray between 2011 and 2014 | Paul Gilham / Getty Images

At a glance at his silverware harvest, five national trophies are equal to an extremely successful visit to Istanbul for Eboué.

However, the fate of the former Arsenal full-back in Turkey has been marred by racial abuse from opposition supporters and a dispute with his agent which has led to a year-long ban from the sport. Although Galatasaray charitably offered him a role at the club when they learned of his perilous financial situation.

Didier drogba
Didier Drogba won a league title, a national cup and scored 20 goals in 18 months at Galatasaray | Clive Rose / Getty Images

Drogba only needed 18 months to consolidate his place among Galatasaray’s greats in recent years.

The former Chelsea forward has proven prolific and selfless, helping to steer Gala to a record 20th league title in 2013 with a glut of goals in the big game.

Scoring in the Intercontinental Derby between the Istanbul Galatasaray and Fenerbahce teams somehow helps consolidate a player’s place in the folklore of his club.

Still, scoring the only goal in a Turkish Cup final between the two halves of the eternal rivalry is worthy of instant hero status, as Podolski discovered in 2016.

Unlike his Premier League career, which burned so hard before darkening, Cissé actually improved on his dazzling first season in Turkey.

After collecting 16 goals for a clearly median Alanyaspor (43% of their league total), Cissé finished second in top scorer last season, leading his side to the Europa League qualifiers and the Turkish Cup final. The first two for the club.

The former Arsenal and Manchester City full-back was quick to show off his skills by joining new Basaksehir in 2017, as he explained to the BBC: “When I came to visit I told the president that I am not Lionel Messi but what I can bring is what I have learned. “

Clichy’s three seasons at the club replicated a countdown to success, as Basaksehir finished third, second and finally first in 2020, with the Frenchman part of the squad.

SuperLig - "Galatasaray vs. Fenerbahce"
Dirk Kuyt helped Fenerbahce reach a great European semi-final for the first time in his first season at the club in 2013 | VI-Images / Getty Images

Everywhere Kuyt went, the industrious and talented Dutchman not only excelled, but quickly gained the adoration of the fan base.

His three years at Fenerbahce – where he won the Turkish Cup and the top flight – were no different.

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig"Medipol Basaksehir FK vs. BTC Turk Yeni Malatyaspor"
Demba Ba may have lost some of his speed, but his goal instinct is still there for everyone to witness | ANP Sport / Getty Images

After a three and a half consecutive but memorable stint in the Premier League, Demba Ba leapt between two slightly less revered divisions; the best Turkish and Chinese flights.

In each country, Ba continued to score goals and won the Turkish top flight twice, first with Besiktas in 2017 and then again with Basaksehir in 2020.