All the leading contenders have spent heavily over the summer as they bid to dethrone last season’s champions Besiktas.
By Mehmet Demircan in Istanbul
Champions Besiktas have spent heavily this summer in pursuit of a repeat of last season’s success, bringing back national team striker Nihat Kahveci from Villarreal of Spain and signing former Italy centre-half Matteo Ferrari from Genoa.
Meanwhile, Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Michael Fink becomes the second German at the club, joining Fabian Ernst who arrived from Schalke in January. Local youngsters Ismael Koybasi from Gaziantepspor and Under-19 right-back Ridvan Simsek of Karsiyaka could also feature as coach Mustafa Denizli bids to make an impact in the Champions League.
Once again, Fenerbahce have also dug deep. Aziz Yildirim, who was re-elected for another four years as president, sacked coach Luis Aragones and brought back Christoph Daum. He has picked up Brazilian defender Fabio Bilica from Sivasspor, Turkey midfielder Mehmet Topuz from Kayserispor and the talented Ozer Hurmaci from Ankaraspor, but Yildirim still wants at least one famous name.
Galatasaray already have their big-name signing: coach Frank Rijkaard, with Johan Neeskens as his assistant. Mustafa Sarp from Bursaspor and Besiktas’ out-of-contract captain Gokhan Zan were the Turkish signings, while the foreign names joining include Argentina goalkeeper Leo Franco of Atletico Madrid and Ivory Coast winger Kader Keita from Lyon. Sporting director Haldun Ustunel has promised more signings; if and when they arrive, Galatasaray are sure to challenge their Istanbul rivals Besiktas and Fenerbahce for the title.
Sivasspor surprised everybody with their fighting spirit last season as they qualified for the Champions League preliminary round. But with their best player Bilica sold to Fenerbahce, coach Bulent Uygun says they are starting from scratch. They signed Piter Mbemba from FC Eindhoven, Akeem Agbetu from relegated Kocaelispor and Razak Omotoyossi from Saudi club Al Nassr, but they will need more quality to reach the group stages of the Champions League. A repeat of last season will be difficult with the current squad.
Trabzonspor will start the new season with another new boss: Belgian coach Hugo Broos. The Black Sea side’s important signings are Zafer Yelen from Hansa Rostock and Namibian defender Razundara Tjiukuzu from Istanbul BB.
Bursaspor have stuck with coach Ertugrul Saglam and are looking at a Europa League place with a team reliant on youth. Ankaraspor coach Jurgen Rober has targeted a top-five finish, while another Ankara team, Genclerbirligi, have hired young German coach Thomas Doll in a bid to finally break into the top six. Experienced goalkeeper Serdar Kulbilge has arrived from Kocaelispor.
Ankaragucu are the best-supported team in the capital and have signed former England striker Darius Vassell from Manchester City.
Kayserispor just missed out on a European spot last season, but they might make it this time if coach Tolunay Kafkas spends the £6million the club received from the sale of Topuz to Fenerbahce on new recruits.
Gaziantepspor have a new coach, Jose Coucerio, and have so far held on to key Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Tabata, but they need more strength to break out of mid-table.
Denizlispor will need a repeat of last season’s miracle to avoid relegation. New coach Erhan Altin will be expecting a lot of key signing Ahmet Cebe from Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Antalyaspor also avoided the drop despite their players not being paid for months. Experienced signings Pini Balili (Sivasspor), Kerim Zengin (Istanbul BB) and striker Veysel Cihan (Konyaspor) should improve things this season.
Eskisehirspor have spent heavily in a bid to avoid last season’s relegation scrap. National team striker Umit Karan has arrived from Galatasaray and young Batuhan Karadeniz will spend another year on loan from Besiktas.
Istanbul BB, the team owned by the Istanbul municipality, will be confident of a mid-table finish after signing Taner Gulleri (Kocaelispor), Herve Tum (Sivasspor) and Can Arat (Fenerbahce).
Of the promoted teams, Manisaspor, based in Izmir, are back after a one-year absence. Coach Mesut Bakkal, one-time assistant to former national coach Ersun Yanal, has promised a positive, attacking style.
Diyarbakirspor have limited finances and their only signing so far has been Adriano from Istanbul BB, but coach Nurullah Saglam did well with Gaziantepspor in the past.
Istanbul’s Kasimpasa, one of Turkey’s oldest clubs, were promoted via the play-offs. Some big signings – Christian Keller (Stabaek), Martin Baran (Tatran Presov of Slovakia) Martin Hudec (Sigma Olomouc), Petr Bolek (Slovan Liberec) and Andre Galiassi (CFR Cluj) – offer proof of their ambition.