Most of the European Leagues have suspended games due to the Coronavirus outbreak. However, the Süper Lig fixtures are going ahead behind closed doors and we look at some of the former Serie A heroes currently playing in Turkey.
As Galatasaray prepared for the Istanbul derby against Besiktas by disinfecting Turk Telekom Stadium during the early hours on Sunday, the top two sides in the division, Trabzonspor and Istanbul Basaksehir, faced each other in a direct clash.
Both games ended in draws, and Sivasspor failed to grab the advantage to climb up behind the duo at the top on Monday night and it is still the status quo after a controversial weekend in Turkish football.
The government have ordered health officials to disinfect the areas where games are being played and so far, they are trying to carry on without stopping amid fear of the COVID-19.
The Galatasaray players released a statement on social media, claiming they “find it quite bizarre that we keep playing, despite it being behind closed doors”.
They are still waiting to learn about the proceedings of the Süper Lig and as things stand, there are a few former Serie A players who are fighting for the top spots in the League.
The top two qualify for the Champions League next season, while the third and fourth place teams will gain a spot in the Europa League next term.
1. Trabzonspor – 53p
The joint league leaders are captained by the former Milan and Napoli midfielder Jose Sosa. The Argentine 34-year-old never became a hit in the Italian top tier and only played 19 games for the Rossoneri before he left San Siro on loan in September 2017 and eventually moved on a permanent transfer of €3.6m to Trabzonspor in January 2018. He has previously won La Liga with Atletico Madrid and the German Bundesliga twice with Bayern Munich.
Manuel da Costa played for Sampdoria and Fiorentina, but the 33-year-old only played 142 minutes in total, as the Moroccan only appeared three times in Serie A. Caleb Ekuban can also get a mention after having been in the Chievo squad but never appeared in the top tier, but he moved on to feature in Serie C.
2. Istanbul Basaksehir – 53p
There’s the curious case of Martin Skrtl, who never played for Atalanta but appeared on the bench once in Serie A. He joined the Orobici on August 9 last summer, but had his contract terminated after only three weeks with La Dea.
But the big star would have to be former Milan forward Robinho, even if the 36-year-old has only eight League appearances in the current campaign for the new noisy neighbours ruining the well-established party of the “three giants” of Istanbul. The Brazilian winger played 144 games and contributed 32 goals and 30 assists during his time at San Siro.
Gökhan Inler arrived in Istanbul from Leicester and moved from Besiktas to Basaksehir in July 2017. The Swiss midfielder has previous experience from Udinese, where his good form earned him a €18m transfer to Napoli in July 2011.
Eljero Elia played four games for Juventus in 2011-12, as the Old Lady picked him up from Hamburger SV but sold him back to the German Bundesliga as he struggled to settle in Turin and the Dutch player went on to feature for Southampton and Feyenoord before moving to Turkey. A mention could also go to Daniel Aleksic, who had a spell at Genoa in 2009-10, when he played two matches in Serie A before moving to Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.
3. Galatasaray – 50p
Already mentioned Falcao has hit form with Galatasaray after moving on a free transfer from Monaco and he now shares the locker room with former Inter defender Yuto Nagatomo. The Japanese 33-year-old played 210 matches at left-back for the Nerazzurri, contributing 11 goals and 18 assists in the process, and has also appeared for Cesena in the top tier of Italian football.
The former Lazio goalkeeper Ferbioreportsdo Muslera has kept 12 clean sheets in 25 games for Galatasaray this term, whilst former Juventus youngster Mario Lemina is currently on loan from Southampton. The Gabon international played 42 games for the Bianconeri and scored three times in his time with the Italian champions before his move to the Premier League.
4. Sivasspor – 49p
The Ghana international Isaac Cofie has a long history in Serie A but arrived after one season with Sporting Gijon in Spain. He has a total tally of 119 games in Serie A for Capri, Chievo Verona and Genoa, who released the 28-year-old on a free transfer to Sporting Gijon in August 2018.
5. Besiktas – 44p
Another Ghanaian star Kevin-Prince Boateng left Fiorentina this winter and moved to Besiktas after only six months at the Artemio Franchi. He is currently on loan in Istanbul, but the deal includes an option based on the former Milan forward’s performances in Süper Lig. The 33-year-old has previous experience from Sassuolo and Genoa in the top tier of Italian football and has played a total of 112 games in Serie A.
He is the teammate of former Roma player Adem Ljajic, who moved from Torino ahead of the current season. The Serbia international has played 225 games in Serie A, including stints at Inter and Fiorentina. After scoring 48 times and assisting 38 goals in Italy, he left for pastures new but is still only 28 years old.
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