The Turkish Super Lig has a reputation as something of a refuge for stray big-name footballers that have made the move away from the major European leagues in search of a new challenge.
The league has a rich history of giving opportunities to the sport’s great misfits, from the likes of Mario Balotelli to the recently-retired Mesut Ozil and Dele Alli today. A quick browse of the 2022-23 top scorers list will tell you that grand tradition is very much ongoing.
Eight of this season’s top 10 goalscorers list features players that have made appearances in one of Europe’s top five leagues, with most of them either current or former internationals. It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix of players you’ve probably completely forgotten about – so let’s see who makes the cut.
Honourable mentions to Wout Weghorst (eight goals for Besiktas before leaving for Manchester United), Bafetimbi Gomis (eight goals for Galatasaray), Trezeguet (seven goals for Trabzonspor) and Mame Biram Diouf (seven goals for Konyaspor) who miss out on cracking the top 10.
Note: if two players are tied on goals, we’ve put them in order of who has the most assists.
10. Riad Bajic – 9 goals
A lesser-known name, 28-year-old Bosnia international Bajic spent five years on Udinese’s books but spent the majority of that time out on loan in Turkey or elsewhere in Italy.
He left the Serie A outfit last summer and joined Giresunspor – a Pointless answer if there ever was one for the ‘Turkish Super Lig clubs’ round – and has scored
9. Mauro Icardi – 9 goals
Here we go. The controversial Argentinian forward is classic Turkish Super Lig.
Icardi had spent three years at PSG but surprisingly struggled to work his way into their best XI given their wealth of attacking talent.
Currently out on loan at Galatasaray, Icardi has proven a solid signing with nine goals and six assists for the Super Lig champions-elect.
You imagine they’ll try to sign him permanently in the summer but Roma and Milan are also said to be interested.
🤯💊 Mauro Icardi is a popular man amongst the Galatasaray fans already! This is the scenes when he landed in Azerbaijan for a friendly tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/0Ba6O53Zin
— EuroFoot (@eurofootcom) March 25, 2023
8. Michy Batshuayi – 10 goals
The 2022-23 campaign isn’t Batshuayi’s first Super Lig rodeo.
The Belgium international spent last season out on loan from Chelsea at Besiktas, where he won the Turkish Super Cup and scored 14 league goals.
He has since made the eyebrow-raising decision to sign permanently for their Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce.
Batshuayi has scored 10 goals in just 15 Super Lig appearances for the Yellow Canaries, averaging a goal every 91.9 minutes – a ratio bettered only the man who tops this list, his team-mate.
7. Cenk Tosun – 10 goals
The towering centre-forward only scored nine goals in 50 Premier League appearances after joining from Besiktas back in 2018 – he’s already bettered that tally in 24 appearances (10 starts) in the Super Lig this season.
Tosun is back at Vodafone Park, having turned his initial loan into a permanent deal last summer. He needs twice as many goals to match his best-ever Super Lig tally from back in 2016-17, however.
6. Umut Nayir – 10 goals
The second of two Turkish players thriving in their home country, Nayir is another name that will be unfamiliar to many.
The 29-year-old striker has spent almost his entire career in the Turkish Super Lig, something of a journeyman with a less-than-stellar goalscoring record.
He’s currently out on loan at Umraniyespor from second-tier,
Yorkshire Istanbul-based Eyupsor and has suddenly caught fire. He’s scored 10 goals this season and was rewarded with his international debut over the March break.
5. Valon Ethemi – 10 goals
One for England to watch out for in the next international break, North Macedonia international Ethemi has been in excellent form of late, with six goals and two assists in his last 10 Super Lig appearances for Istanbulspor.
That takes his tally up to an impressive 10 for the season.
4. Haji Wright – 12 goals
You may remember Wright leading the line for the United States at the World Cup in Qatar and scoring off the bench in the first knockout round against the Netherlands.
The well-travelled 24-year-old has represented the New York Cosmos, Schalke, VVV Venlo, Sonderjyske and is currently turning out for Antalyaspor.
He’s scored 12 goals in 19 Super Lig appearances and has been linked with a move away.
3. Mbaye Diagne – 15 goals
You may recall the Senegalese striker getting drafted in by Sam Allardyce’s West Brom in a doomed bid for survival.
But we wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t, given he scored three goals in 16 Premier League appearances for a very forgettable Baggies team.
Diagne was on loan from Galatasaray at the time, and he’s since made the switch to Andrea Pirlo’s(!) Fatih Karagumruk. He’s scored 15 goals in 23 appearances in an impressive debut campaign.
2. Fabio Borini – 15 goals
The archetypal Premier League old boy now turning out in Turkey, Sunderland cult hero Borini is having the time of his life lining up alongside Diagne for Fatih Karagumruk.
The Italian, who is still somehow only 31, is into his third season with the club and has already notched a career-best tally of 15 league goals. Good for him.
Ex Liverpool and Sunderland forward Fabio Borini got on the scoresheet for Fatih Karagümrük today.
— Seb Sternik (@seb_sternik) December 25, 2022
1. Enner Valencia – 25 goals
After reminding many of his existence with his sparkling form for Ecuador at the World Cup – three goals in three appearances in Qatar – the former West Ham striker is having a truly outrageous season for Fenerbahce.
Backed up by a supporting cast that includes Gjanni Alioski, Josh King, Bright Osayi-Samuel and the aforementioned Batshuayi, Valencia has scored 25 goals in 21 Super Lig appearances this season.
That works out as a goal every 60.6 minutes in 2022-23. To put that in context, Erling Haaland averages a Premier League goal every 75.7 minutes.
We never knew he had it in him.