Ranked

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

Jan 18, 2021, 4:35 PM GMT
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Demba Ba and Martin Skrtel were Premier League rivals, but won the top flight title together in Turkey | ANDREW YATES/Getty Images
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A banner which read: "Welcome to Hell," framed one of the earliest interactions between the newly-formed Premier League and Turkish Super Lig.

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

Here's a rundown of the fortunes which have befallen some of the Premier League's notable departures.

15. Samir Nasri (Antalyaspor)

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Samir Nasri didn't last long after being presented to the Antalyaspor fans | AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Just five months into a two-year deal with Antalyaspor, the former Manchester City midfielder parted ways with the Turkish outfit in January 2018.

Nasri did score twice in his eight appearances but was subsequently banned from the sport for 18 months for a doping violation.

14. Daniel Sturridge (Trabzonspor)

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

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

The former Liverpool striker then received a ban of his own for gambling.

13. Aaron Lennon (Kayserispor)

13, unlucky for some. But not Aaron Lennon.

13 matches into his Kayserispor career, Lennon finally won his first game for the club. It's still early days for the former Tottenham and Burnley winger, but as of now Lennon boasts as many red cards as assists.

12. Raul Meireles (Fenerbahce)

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

As one of the priciest Premier League arrivals in Turkey, Meireles' involvement waned as his spell in Istanbul wore on.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea midfielder later admitted that he lost his 'passion and enthusiasm' for the sport in his final two seasons.

11. Robin van Persie (Fenerbahce)

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

Van Persie may have managed to kick up a fuss within weeks of his 2015 move to Fenerbahce, but the Dutch forward enjoyed a goal-laden debut campaign.

Unfortunately, it was a case of diminishing returns thereafter and Van Persie cancelled his contract midway through his third season to return to Feyenoord.

10. Nani (Fenerbahce)

UEFA Europa League - "Fenerbahce SK v Molde FK"
Nani enjoyed his 'beautiful day's at Fenerbahce so much he hinted at a return to the club which didn't materialise | VI-Images/Getty Images

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

9. Martin Skrtel (Fenerbahce, Basaksehir)

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

One of several former Premier League stars peppered throughout the state-backed, title-winning Basaksehir, Martin Skrtel continued to deploy his rugged approach to defending but - to somehow make him even more unnerving - did so with a full head of hair.

8. Alexander Sorloth (Trabzonspor)

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

By the end of a sensational individual campaign for the Crystal Palace loanee Alexander Sorloth in 2019/20, the Norwegian frontman finished as the Super Lig's top scorer and netted 33 goals across all competitions.

That season Palace only scored 30.

7. Emmanuel Eboue (Galatasaray)

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

From just a cursory glance at his silverware haul, five domestic trophies accounts to a hugely successful stint in Istanbul for Eboue.

However, the former Arsenal full back's spell in Turkey was stained by racial abuse from opposition fans and a dispute with his agent which led to a one-year ban from the sport. Although, Galatasaray did charitably offer him a role back at the club when they learned of his perilous financial situation.

6. Didier Drogba (Galatasaray)

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

Drogba only needed 18 months to cement his place among Galatasaray's greats of recent years.

The former Chelsea striker proved to be prolific and unselfish, as he helped steer Gala to a record-breaking 20th league title in 2013 with a glut a big-game goals.

5. Lukas Podolski (Galatasaray)

To score in the Intercontinental Derby between Istanbul sides Galatasaray and Fenerbahce goes some way to cementing a player's place in his club's folklore.

Yet, to net the only goal in a Turkish Cup final between the two halves of the Eternal Rivalry is worthy of instant hero-status, as Podolski found out in 2016.

4. Papiss Cisse (Alanyaspor, Fenerbahce)

Unlike his Premier League career, which burned so bright before dimming, Cisse actually improved upon a blistering maiden season in Turkey.

After ripping in 16 goals for a distinctly mid-table Alanyaspor (43% of their league total), Cisse finished as second-top scorer last season, hauling his side into the Europa League qualifiers and the Turkish Cup final. Both firsts for the club.

3. Gael Clichy (Basaksehir)

The former Arsenal and Manchester City full back was quick to highlight his skillset when joining the newly established Basaksehir in 2017, as he outlined to the BBC: "When I came to visit, I told the president I am not Lionel Messi but what I can bring is what I have learnt."

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 a fixture of the side.

2. Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce)

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

Wherever Kuyt has gone, the industrious and talented Dutchman has not only excelled, but rapidly earned the adoration of the fanbase.

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

1. Demba Ba (Besiktas, Basaksehir)

Turkish Spor Toto Super Lig"Medipol Basaksehir FK v BTC Turk Yeni Malatyaspor"
Demba Ba may have lost some of his speed, but his scoring instincts are still there for all to witness | ANP Sport/Getty Images

Following a streaky but memorable three-and-a-half year stint in the Premier League, Demba Ba has hopped between two marginally less revered divisions; the Turkish and Chinese top flights.

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

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