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It has been quite a month for Galatasaray and their fans. Firstly, the somewhat surprise signing of Inter Milan’s Dutch talisman Wesley Sneijder, swiftly followed by the news that Didier Drogba will now be joining the current Turkish champions, Galatasaray SK. Reportedly, Drogba has joined the club on an 18 month contract at a cost of £5 million from Shanghai Shenhua, a mere eight months after joining the Chinese club.
So why has Drogba decided to leave Shanghai? Well, he has only made eleven appearances, but has scored eight goals in that time. Nicolas Anelka’s move to Juventus which was confirmed just 24 hours before Drogba’s was led to many expecting Drogba to leave the club too. Shanghai are in a poor financial state in actuality, despite being in a supposedly healthy one this time last year when they signed Anelka and in June when they signed Drogba. Despite good form, it is clear it was not quite right for Drogba being in China.
So what is Galatasaray reasoning behind their second surprise signing of the January transfer window? Galatasaray’s owners have proved in recent years that they are willing to splash the cash for players in their late 20’s to early 30’s that are experienced in Europe’s top leagues, as shown by the signings of the likes of current club captain Hamit Altintop, Emmanuel Eboue and Johan Elmander, but few expected the signings of Drogba as well as Sneijder.
I feel Galatasaray are being somewhat disrespected though by both opposing club fans around the world and journalists. People talk as if Galatasaray and the Turkish league in general have no selling point, but the club and the league absolutely do. Galatasaray are a club with huge support both in Turkey and across Europe and the rest of the world.
Although the club and its fans in particular have attracted a fair amount of negative press headlines, the majority of their fans are peaceful, but still passionate. The roar that comes from the Turk telecom stadium when they score is immense, while the Istanbul derby against long standing rivals Fernebache are must see games.
When I first heard about the signing of Drogba by Galatasaray, I instantly thought of how the former Chelsea man and club legend Didier Drogba would fit into this Galatasaray team. Well, it is pretty simple really; he will lead the line alongside Galatasaray’s main man, striker and goal machine Burak Yilmaz.
Burak Yilmaz has been in magnificent form this season, especially in the UEFA Champions League. It was on match day 4 when the Turkish striker almost singlehandedly destroyed CFR Cluj in the game in Romania, with Burak Yilmaz scoring all three Galatasaray goals in the 3-1 win.
What really impressed me personally about this performance was the fact Yilmaz scored with a header, then with his right foot and finally his left foot, making his a perfect hatrick. With every goal he made it look so easy. Yilmaz also scored Galatasaray’s winner against Manchester United and their equaliser against Braga, and both goals went a huge way to securing round of sixteen qualification for the Turkish side. Yilmaz and Cristiano Ronaldo finished the group stage as equal top scorers.
Yilmaz, like Drogba, is a tall, but deceptively quick finisher. Drogba is a lot more muscular and uses his upper body strength more than Yilmaz does admittedly, but the point is that they share many common abilities. One problem that this could cause is that both players may well feel more comfortable up on their own, or with the more technically sound and versatile Johan Elmander, the ex-Bolton and Toulouse striker.
Drogba has previously struggled to be as effective and dangerous for opposition defences while with another striker, so Faith Terim may have to rearrange and reshuffle his side’s line up on a few occasions to compliment these two world class strikers.
Despite potential changes to the side’s line up and questions about Drogba’s ability to still perform on the world stage, I am confident he can help Galatasaray secure the Turkish league title (Galatasaray are currently five points ahead of closest rivals Fernebache who are in second) and perhaps secure some other trophies too in his time in Istanbul.
With Galatasaray still in the UEFA Champions League with two games against Schalke approaching, the club’s board are clearly aiming high. The idea of a midfield with Wesley Sneider and Hamit Altintop must have excited Drogba and they could be a team to really watch out for.
Written by Joshua Sodergren
Follow him on Twitter @chelsealad1365
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