Beşiktaş stumble on defense with string of exits

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Nicolas Isimat-Mirin
Nicolas Isimat-Mirin

French international Nicolas Isimat-Mirin is the latest addition to Beşiktaş's defense. The Black Eagles have witnessed the transfer and departure of 16 players in total in the past six years, remaining uncertain on whether to implement a defensive game plan or not

PSV Eindhoven's Nicolas Isimat-Mirin joined Beşiktaş this week in the January transfer window; however, it remains unclear how the club convinced the French international to join a team known for a multitude of defensive transfers, only to send them packing in a short time. Over the last few years, these uncertain actions have derailed any chance of stable gameplay based on defense.

Since Fikret Orman took office as president of the Black Eagles in 2012, Beşiktaş has transferred 16 defenders. It was both a bid to reinforce defensive gameplay and as they later proved, a profitable cash cow for the club that earned 29.8 million euros from the sale of defenders in six years.

The team, which currently sits in the seventh spot in the Turkish Super League, heavily relied on defenders as it suffered from a lack of efficient strikers. Local talent Berat Çetinkaya of Sakaryaspor and French international Julien Escude were the first to join the Eagles under the Orman administration. Colombian defender Pedro Franco joined in the 2013-14 season, but Beşiktaş still lacked an effective defense and turned to Dany Nounkeu of Galatasaray in the January transfer window in the same season.

The transfer of new defenders peaked in the 2015-16 season, when veteran coach Şenol Güneş took the helm. In his first season, Beşiktaş transferred four defenders, including Luiz Rhodolfo of Brazilian outfit Gremio and Gençlerbirliği's Serbian defender Dusko Tosic. They were followed by Marcelo Guedes and Alexis Delgado in the midseason break. The next season, Croat player Matej Mitrovic joined the defense cadres. Atınç Nukan and Ersan Adem Gülüm, two Turkish defenders, also joined Black Eagles that season on loan. Last season, Beşiktaş brought in Pepe, captain of Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team with much fanfare and added Domagoj Vida, another Croatian player, to defense. The 2018-19 season started with the transfer of Chilean defender Enzo Roco.

The investment in defense proved fruitful for the administration. Atınç Nukan's sale to German outfit Leipzig for 5 million euros and Ersan Adem Gülüm joining China's Hebei China Fortune for 7 million euros helped the financially troubled team fill its coffers. Alexis Delgado, who spent only first half a season in Beşiktaş, brought 400,000 euros to Beşiktaş with his transfer to Alaves with Guedes was sold for 7 million euros to Olympique Lyon. Rhodolfo, who lost his spot in the starting 11 after a lengthy injury, joined Brazil's Flamengo for 1.4 million euros. Tosic and Mitrovic were the latest players the Eagles sold, to the tune of 4.5 million euros, to Guangzhou and Club Brugge respectively.

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