Selcuk Inan: The real star of Galatasaray

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Interest in Galatasaray, who produced a sensational performance to beat Schalke and advance to the Champions League quarter-finals on Tuesday, has sky-rocketed in recent months.

This is largely because of the January signings of two of the biggest names in world football. From Italy, talented Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder joined from Inter Milan after almost two months without playing for the first team. Contract disputes with the former European champions led to Sneijder being frozen out but he insists he has come to win trophies, not for the money. 

Next to join was another player unhappy with his club, former Chelsea star Didier Drogba. The Shanghai Shenua forward’s spell in China hadn’t worked out the way it was intended and with his club embroiled in a match-fixing scandal it came as no surprise to see Drogba leave to join Galatasaray on an 18 month deal. 

These two global stars have been grabbing all the headlines along with incumbent front man Burak Yilmaz - the joint top scorer in this season’s Champions League - but, for me, the star of the Galatasaray show has been midfielder Selcuk Inan.

Inan started his career at Dardanelspor in 2000 before moving on to Manisaspor, where he first played with future playing partner Yilmaz. In 2008, Inan signed for Trabzonspor where, together with Yilmaz and Umut Bulut he helped propel the club to as high as second in the Super Lig thanks to some impressive performances. 

Following a disastrous season for Galatasaray, in which they finished eighth, a new board helped bring Inan in for nothing and he quickly set about transforming the Galatasaray midfield. It is hardly a coincidence that in his first season at the club Galatasaray won the Super Lig as Inan powered his way to the top of Gala's goals and assists charts. 

A tremendous season for the midfielder continued into the start of next season as he went from strength to strength. Inan assisted Bulut twice in the Turkish Super Cup against Fenerbache and then scored the winner as Galatasaray triumphed 3-2.

What is admirable about Inan’s style of play is the way he has transformed himself from a primarily defensive player in his early career to one of the finest playmakers in Europe. The things that really stand out from watching Inan are his amazing vision and the ease with which he keeps the ball. 

These two traits relieve the pressure on his team-mates and afford them more time to get into the spaces he can create. While his passing ability has become infamous he hasn’t forgotten the beginnings of his game and his defensive play is still up there with some of the best. 

In terms of distance covered it will be a surprise to see his name absent from the top of the list and his natural defensive instincts allow for a good number of interceptions. Perhaps his greatest trademark of all, though, comes from his impressive technique when it comes to long-range shooting and free-kicks. Known more for his attempts from long range, his ability provides a fantastic asset to his team and just adds to the list of reasons as to why he is so important.

So while Drogba, Sneijder and Yilmaz will be grabbing all the headlines, it is important to remember the real maestro at Galatasaray, the star of the show, the metronome, if you will. 

Alongside Felipe Melo, the Galatasaray captain has been nothing short of inspirational and perhaps the greatest compliment he can be paid is one that is if anything overused. When talking about Inan the comparison that is always used is the Turkish Xavi. High praise indeed but, ironically, Inan has said he prefers to model his game on Zidane. 

Regardless of which there can be no doubting the supreme talents of one of Turkey’s premier player.  


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Didier Drogba
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