Turkish football's increasing reliance on foreign players manifested itself once again in the Super League this season. A total of 211 foreign players showed up in matches in the first 12 weeks of the top-tier league, compared to only 190 Turkish players. Moreover, 43 of these 190 players launched their careers in foreign clubs.
The foreign players have had 59 percent playing time while it was only 41 percent for Turkish players. Their total playing time amounted to 125,730 minutes.
Fenerbahçe has the most foreigners in its lineup, fielding 16 foreigners so far this season. They are followed by Beşiktaş, Göztepe and Ankaragücü with 14 foreign players each. Çaykur Rizespor trailed close behind with 10 foreigners.
Bursaspor, on the other hand, cut its dependence on foreigners, relying on 15 Turkish players this season. It only gave 4,595 minutes of playing time to foreigners in this season's matches. Kasımpaşa was the team with the longest playing time for foreign footballers with 8,007 minutes this season. It has a playing time of 3,873 minutes for local players.
Medipol Başakşehir, the current league leaders, Kasımpaşa and Atiker Konyaspor allowed only nine Turkish players in their lineups.
Approximately 43 Turkish players were "gurbetçis" a Turkish name given to members of Turkish diaspora abroad. Most kicked off their careers in German, Dutch, Austrian, Swiss, French and Belgian clubs.
Naturally, foreigners also dominated the list of top scorers. Out of 273 goals in Super League matches this season, 192, including own goals, were scored by foreigners. All goals by Fenerbahçe, 11 in total, were the work of its foreign recruits. Similarly, Kasımpaşa owes its success in the league to foreign players who scored 23 of 26 goals of the Istanbul-based club.
Senegalese international Mbaye Diagne of Istanbul-based Kasımpaşa remains the Turkish league's top scorer with 12 goals and two assists in 12 matches. Kasımpaşa, trailing behind Galatasaray in the league, also became the most scoring team of the season with 26 goals. The 27-year-old striker, who joined Kasımpaşa last season, made the starting eleven in 15 out of 17 matches. Only Göztepe and Erzurumspor saw local players scoring more than foreigners.
In a landmark change to Turkish football, the Turkish Football Federation raised the limit of foreign players to 14 in 2015. The change was both criticized and lauded for thinning chances of local players to find playing time and for giving a competitive edge to Turkey in international tournaments.
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