2017/18 Beşiktaş Transfer Review – Part 1/2

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Updated: May 17, 2018

Beşiktaş brought in a hefty 11 players in the two transfer windows, though they managed to not break the bank in the process. The front office adopted a thrifty approach to the transfer window, in which they brought in mostly ‘low risk/low reward’ players. It was criticized by some perhaps, but most understood that little would be done to shake up the team. In part due to Beşiktaş’ financial situation, and even more so, because of the team’s fairly stable success via a system that largely had the players it needed to function well.

These older, but more reliable players, were to provide veteran leadership on the training pitch and help mentally prepare the team for the all-important champion’s league run Beşiktaş hoped to go on. In turn, they were also to hopefully provide valuable depth to a team generally lacking it. Pepe was the clear exception; he was clearly brought in to not only start but provide a leader who’d control the entire (at times shaky, historically) backline and stabilize it.

The results? I’ll analyze them each individually below:

 

Álvaro Negredo – 9 (£2.25m)

Initial Response:

Señor Negredo was given the unenviable task of replacing the very successful and wildly popular Vincent Aboubakar, who thrived as an attacker in Senol Güneş’ system. Cenk Tosun was still the main striker however, and the idea that Negredo would be a short-term, secondary attacking option who could either succeed and stick with the squad, or be let go of easily upon failure wasn’t poor business by any stretch.

Initial Grade (at the time of the deal):                             7/10

The Final Results:

The unexpected departure of Cenk Tosun, in an offer ‘too good to refuse’ from Everton, placed Negredo in the limelight far more than anyone would have bargained for. The results weren’t pretty; his touch was usually off, his pace was lacking… much didn’t go well for the seasoned central forward. His ability to control the ball, hold up play for support, and distribute to midfielders coming forward in attack was actually not bad at all, but for a Beşiktaş team often desperately needing a player up front who had the ability to apply that final touch to get the ball in the back of the net, Álvaro Negredo was simply not up to the task. It’s probably not fair to hold him to the standard of a starting striker, given the role Beşiktaş brought him in to play, but to be fair, he was often not good enough to be a second striker off the bench.

Final Grade: 5/10

 

Jeremain Lens – 17 (£1.35m loan fee w/ option)

Initial Response:

Jeremain Lens was a highly sought after player entering the transfer season. His strong impact at Fenerbahçe suggested he already had the goods to perform at a high level in the Turkish Super Lig, and just slightly on the under side of 30, the possibility for him to settle in long-term and replace the aging Quaresma had to be more than a little promising.

Initial Grade (at the time of the deal):             9/10

The Final Results:

It’s hard to really judge the season that Lens had. Irregular playing time, boneheaded, physical play, marred by silly fouls, but then also the occasional masterful touch, lightning fast runs through opposing defenses—it was night and day with Lens, and this could in large part have been the by-product of not getting regular time in the lineup, much less in the starting XI. Just as Babel didn’t look like much in his first (half) season with Beşiktaş but then came into his own in his second season with the team (after benefiting from a full offseason of training with the team), one could imagine the same working in his Dutch compatriot’s favor – particularly with his proven pedigree in Turkey. Still though, it would be hard to quantify this first season as anything but subpar.

Final Grade: 6/10

Gary Medel – 12 (£2.25m)

Initial Response:

Gary Medel was an interesting transfer. Somewhat under the radar, and hardly in a position of need (seemingly), it certainly reinforced the depth/veteran leadership theme, but with Atiba Hutchinson, Necip Uysal, plus Tolgay Arslan and Oğuzhan Özyakup in the slightly more advanced CM role, he certainly didn’t fit a need.

It’s not that he didn’t probably represent a more sound defensive option to Atiba if needed, or a better all-around option than Necip—it was that both merited their own roles and playing time, and the idea of someone coming into disrupt that felt unnecessary. At the time.

Initial Grade (at the time of the deal):             5/10

The Final Results:

With Atiba Hutchinson injured sporadically throughout the year, and the need for third or fourth string options at CB all too common, Gary Medel made the most of his opportunities. He was a firebrand and was certainly error-prone at times, but he was often at the heart of the team’s defense, giving maximum effort, and effectively turning defense into attack effortlessly. His brash style often earned him the referee’s attention, but as a man who could come off the bench, and who always had plenty of options to spell him should he get into trouble—he actually far surpassed the value I personally saw him having with this team. His versatility was incredibly useful.

Final Grade: 8/10

Caner Erkin – 88 (£675k)

Initial Response:

Most won’t consider him a transfer for this window, but in fact it was this past summer when Beşiktaş made his permanent transfer from Internazionale official. Neither he nor the man who often plays above him in the team’s pecking order (Adriano) was new to the team so Beşiktaş fans really knew what they were getting from the previous season. And most Beşiktaş fans had seen enough to be pretty pleased with this deal, even if Caner was definitely past his prime, even by then.

Initial Grade (at the time of the deal):               7/10

The Final Results:

For the first time, in a while, Beşiktaş’ fullbacks are a big part of why Beşiktaş is a good defensive unit. Though still prone to errors occasionally, and the occasional awkward, misplaced cross that begs the question what Caner was thinking about, for the most part Caner Erkin has continued his steady play. Despite advancing age (he’ll turn 30 in October), he hasn’t even lost much of his pace – which would be forgiven. He’s proven to be a valuable asset, providing depth at a position where having depth has proven to be of great value.

He also began to find touch on his crosses a bit more and at times seemed to be a constant threat to put in a pinpoint cross that could turn a match, though again, the occasional howler reminded Beşiktaş fans of his lesser days. Those moments were less and less common as the season progressed and he’s become an important piece of the puzzle, as long as he can stay healthy.

Final Grade: 8/10

Special Mention:

Orkan Çinar – 17 (£405k) Orkan came in on a small deal with minimal fanfare, and actually won over quite a few Beşiktaş fans with his fancy technique on the ball, high effort, and pacy runs through opponents’ midfields. He scored for Beşiktaş in the domestic cup against Manisaspor, and then again later in the season on loan for Konya against Trabzonspor (in an important draw for Konyaspor in terms of their efforts to avoid relegation).

Final Grade: 7/10

Atinç Nukan – 33 (£180k loan fee) Atinç was a curious loan. Though he was brought in to satisfy the specifications of what the champion’s league requires regarding players of a certain age and training background, he was just sold to RB Leipzig and at his age, it was assumed he’d seek consistent playing time and an opportunity to develop his game—which he certainly did not get by coming back to Beşiktaş for the season. He was injured early and never appeared for us so it was hardly his fault but still, it hardly feels like he’s a long-term option with the club given the team’s positional depth.

Final Grade: Incomplete

Utku Yuvakuran – 97 (Free transferA single appearance against Manisapor in the Turkish cup in a throw-away game only yielded a single goal and a decent performance, but it’d be hard to grade a 19 year-old keeper’s upside or the value in acquiring him off of a single performance.

Final Grade: Incomplete

 

Next up in the second and last part: Pepe and the midseason transfers; Domagoj Vida, Vagner Love, and Cyle Larin, plus the wrap-up.
Sinan Schwarting

Sinan Schwarting

Sinan is a life-long Beşiktaş fan. He writes fiction and is just completing his first project (look out for it), as well as being the co-founder of Be Fluent NYC, where he also teaches during the week.
Sinan Schwarting