Player agents know Turkish football better than anyone

Published 01.01.2019 00:23
Updated 01.01.2019 08:00

Recently I read a very interesting rumor circulating in Turkish media, which claimed that Fenerbahçe striker Islam Slimani wanted to move to another Istanbul giant, Beşiktaş. Slimani's performance has truly been disappointing in the last three months, he scored only four goals in 20 games and one of them was against a low tier club in the Turkish Cup.

Intersecting enough, Beşiktaş has been searching for a striker ever since Cenk Tosun left the club a year ago. So, a transfer could be a new start for both sides, since Slimani obviously has more potential than what he has shown in the last three months.

However, the most interesting thing about this rumor was not the pros and cons of the deal, but the way Slimani's agent offered it to Beşiktaş officials.

"If Beşiktaş had scored half of the crosses that [Ricardo] Quaresma made, you would have been the leaders by a long shot," his agent told Beşiktaş officials.

What struck me first was the precision of the observation, it was true that if Beşiktaş had scored those goals things would have been much different. While Turkish columnists were writing a different piece on Beşiktaş every week, the team's strategy has always been the same, Quaresma crossing into the unknown.

Another agent, Jorge Mendes, who brought Hugo Almeida, Simao and Ricardo Quaresma to Istanbul, sold this strategy to Beşiktaş seven years ago. Although Beşiktaş has changed six coaches since, the Quaresma centered game has not changed. Even when Quaresma left the club for two years in 2013, the tradition continued with Gökhan Töre under Slaven Bilic's coaching. Mendes not only sold expired goods to Beşiktaş, but also sold an expired mentality as well. Still, Beşiktaş is using the same mentality, because coach Şenol Güneş dares to create a more sophisticated one.

Then of course, Beşiktaş needs to make Quaresma's crosses count, given it is the only attacking option they have. But the problem is twofold: Have they not made those crosses count because of the lack of a good striker, or has the team's cross-frenzy strategy been the main cause of offensive dullness in the first place? It is actually easy to refute the first part, since no striker can constantly score when he or she is well marked and the cross is an easily predictable tactic, which has been the case for Beşiktaş in the last three months. Then, even if you bring the most talented striker, he or she would have difficulties scoring in such a system.

Of course, the performances of Beşiktaş strikers Cyle Larin, Vagner Love and Mustafa Pektemek have been frustrating, and only young Güven Yalçın has shown some promising talent. But the team could not prepare good opportunities for them either, and a striker cannot keep scoring if not supplied properly.

Here I think it is obvious that Şenol Güneş has not done his job well and let his team play with a very primitive strategy. Therefore, Slimani's agent is right in his or her observation, Beşiktaş is bound to Quaresma's crosses. Nevertheless, the solution is not to buy another striker, but to create a system in which a striker can find lots of opportunities.

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