Eto’o, Gómez, Podolski and Van Persie: 178 international goals and bolstering the Süper Lig

Traditionally, foreign players have been something of a commodity in the Turkish Super Lig, with a smattering of players arriving from overseas but the teams being largely compiled by home-grown players.

However, a change in regulations at the turn of the year now means that teams in the Turkish top flight can have up to 14 players from abroad in their respective squads – opening the floodgates to a number of high-profile arrivals over the summer.

Although experienced players like Nani, Simon Kjaer, Ricardo Quaresma and Stéphane Mbia have all landed in the eastern European country in the last couple of months, the main attractions from the summer transfer market have been a host of high-profile strikers.

Between them, the new Süper Lig quartet of Samuel Eto’o, Mario Gómez, Lukas Podolski and Robin van Persie can boast a staggering 178 international goals over the course of distinguished careers.

These new stars have wasted little time in showing the Turkish public their respective thirst for goals, with the four stars striking 15 times between them so far after six domestic fixtures.

While the other three signed for the country’s big three clubs, 34-year-old Eto’o has opted to make the switch to the modest Antalyaspor.

The Cameroonian star has had a massively distinguished career, winning four domestic titles and three Champions League crowns along the way.

Eto’o has hit the ground running since moving to Turkey, netting five goals in his first four games for the Akdeniz University Stadium outfit and leading the national goalscoring charts as a result.

Samuel Eto'oA player that has brought excitement wherever he has been, it looks like the Antalyspor fans will see plenty of goals in their team’s matches this season – so far in 2015-16 the team in red and white have scored 11 goals in six games, but conceded the same amount at the other end.

From being one of the most feared centre forwards in the world game, Germany international Gómez has seen his career take backward steps in recent years and his move to Turkey has the objective of rekindling some confidence.

Having left Bayern Munich in 2013 to join Fiorentina, injuries and poor form restricted the 30-year-old to only seven Serie A goals; a tally he is quickly approaching already for new club Beşiktaş.

The current league leaders have incorporated Gómez into their forward line with little teething problems, with the new man hitting four goals so far in six games.

This included a decisive brace in the recent 3-2 win over Fenerbahçe; all of a sudden Gomez has something of a swagger back in his step.

Of the four attackers, Podolski has the most international caps with a staggering 126 outings for the current world champions and 48 goals to his name.

However, at club level the Gliwice-born star has not had the same success and found himself as surplus to requirements at Arsenal this summer.

A move to Galatasaray has importantly afforded the 30-year-old regular first-team football and the German has rewarded his new employers with three goals to date.

His link-up play with talismanic playmaker Wesley Sneijder will be a feature of Gala’s play this season, while Podolski will hope he can make an adequate impression in Turkey to be included in his country’s squad for next summer’s Euro 2016.

While Beşiktaş and Galatasaray have added stars, title rivals Fenerbahçe have signed the biggest name in the form of Van Persie.

The Dutchman may well not be the same sprightly forward that terrorised English defences for years in the colours of Arsenal and Manchester United, but is still a Netherlands international and a player with considerable abilities.

Given that his former employers at Old Trafford started the campaign with issues in the number nine role, many have questioned the logic of parting company with the veteran, who still looks good enough to perform at the top level if he can stay fit.

Three goals so far for Van Persie testify that he will be a major asset for Fenerbahçe if reported internal issues between the club and player can be resolved.

Turkish football has certainly benefitted from the influx of these four notable attackers, with supporters of their respective teams having new top-quality idols.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
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