THE Super Lig is fighting a war of attrition to shake off its reputation as a land of mercenaries and misfits playing in front of either hostile or empty crowds.

The 2021/22 season has been a step in the right direction as several clubs outside the traditional power-hubs are mounting serious assaults on the traditional top four, and the names on everyone's lips are not 34-year-old has-beens but an up and coming mix of young domestic and foreign talent. It's a shame that all this on-field prosperity isn't matched off of it as a majority of clubs still operate at a deficit which is becomingly an increasingly untenable position due to the lira's value or lack thereof. As such, there is no better time to head to Turkey's football Bazaar and pluck out a few prized possessions.

Amir Hadžiahmetović, Konyaspor

It's not one of Istanbul's big three who are mounting a respectable assault on Trabzonspor for the league title, but rather an Anatolian outlier, a city and club that Rangers-fan Barry Douglas once called home, Konyaspor.

The most critical player to Konyaspor's success and lately Bosnia is their 24-year-old holding-midfielder Amir Hadžiahmetović. Born in Denmark to Bosnian parents, Hadžiahmetović got his football education at one of Bosnia's biggest clubs, FK Zejleznicar. After two seasons in the first team, he travelled south-east to Koya and the Turkish Super Lig. Hadžiahmetović's ascent to one of the league's best midfielders matched Konya's own as both club and player can rightfully proclaim to be one of the league's best. The graphic below corroborates this assertion as the consistent tinge of dark green on the bars indicates Hadžiahmetović's statistical superiority compared to his peers' vast majority. The chart sums up his strengths and weaknesses well: he is secure and safe in possession and pitches in without it.

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The image below is classic Hadžiahmetović. Here we see him play a clever but challenging lofted pass to one of his wide men who has found space despite a packed defensive line. His timing in the pass is excellent, and as such, his teammate can take the ball in their stride.

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Rangers Review:

Hadžiahmetović can play as both as No.8 but is more comfortable as a No.6 in a three-man midfield, or as the more defensive partner in a double-pivot. Despite this, he does maintain some creative threat, even if he does have a low xA and passes to the penalty area average. The image below shows how his supreme technique is used closer to goal, as here he backheels the ball past two Rizespor defenders and towards his forward. 

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In terms of defensive output, he is neither a gladiator nor a pest; instead, for the most part, he uses his intelligence to avoid confrontation, stopping the opposition at the source due to effective positioning. In terms of a Rangers fit, Hadžiahmetović could assume three roles currently occupied in the squad. He would be a fantastic replacement for either Glen Kamara or Steven Davis and would cover most of the bases Ryan Jack does, albeit with slightly less penalty-box activity.

Mamadou Diarra, Giresunspor

Rangers appear to be active on the centre-back front, with the club recently renewing Leon King’s deal and extensive links with both John Souttar and Danilho Doekhi failing to dissipate. But as of now, those are just links are from done-deals. Even if one or both do come through the doors, we may still want one more centre-back due to the likely out-goings of Connor Goldson, Leon Balogun, and Jack Simpson, Filip Helander’s injury record and dwindling contract, and Bassey’s long-term positional future still being undecided. The Super Lig has some outstanding centre-backs, with many being under-25, but we likely won’t need a starting calibre defender, rather one who can come in and fill the position on a rotational basis. To my knowledge, there is no one better or more realistically suited for this role in Turkey than Giresunspor’s Mamadou Diarra, who also happens to be available on a Bosman right now.

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Diarra has spent the past six years cutting his teeth in Turkey’s TFF 1.Lig, and finally, this season in the Super Lig, which impressively he has taken to like a duck to water. The graphic above shows his statistical output this season, which shows an active defender who is more than capable and adequate on the ball despite playing for a newly-promoted side in the form of Giresunspor.

His passing and ability to carry the ball are the two most compatible traits with Rangers and would see him comfortably operate within the existing Rangers system. For the most part, his passing is secure and safe, most often seen knocking the ball to his fullbacks or No.6. Still, he has a decent long passing range with the occasional searching diagonal coming off, albeit not to the extent we witness Goldson distribute these passes. Diarra is very effective in the air, being a key player during either first or second contacts from corners or crosses. Defensively he is far more of a dog than a cat. Diarra is a very aggressive and active defender, corroborated by his 85th+ percentile placement for defensive duels per 90 and the two examples below. We see Diarra step out significantly to win the ball back in both instances. It's a high-risk game in these two examples, and more often than not, it pays off for Diarra, but this borderline reckless manoeuvre may not sit well with the Ibrox coaching staff and faithful.

Rangers Review:

Rangers Review:

Suppose you can calm Diarra down a bit out of possession, then Rangers have a fantastic rotation option on their hands who fits the necessary profile. For no fee, it’s a risk worth taking, and if anything were to materialise this January in the form of a Bosman, letting him stay in Karadeniz for the second half of the season would be a smart move.

Allahyar Sayyadmanesh, Fenerbahce

Sayyadmanesh is no doubt my favourite of the three. However, funnily enough, he is still yet to play any part in the Super Lig for Fenerbahce, as he has been farmed out on loan to both Istanbulspor and Zorya more recently Luhansk. At just 20, Sayyadmanesh is the youngest in an impressive line of Persian forwards, headlined by Zenit’s Sardar Azmoun and Porto’s Mehdi Taremi. Sayyadmanseh, despite his age and relative lack of games in my eye, is far more complete than any of the current strikers at Rangers, more effective than Kemar Roofe when not scoring goals, and better with the ball at his feet and finishing chances than Alfredo Morelos. The graphic below shows that his four “rating” metrics are above 68.

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Sayyadmanesh is a very clever finisher, evidenced by his over 200% overperformance of his xG, furthered by a goal conversion and shot accuracy in the top quarter. The image below is captured from a conference league game against CSKA Sofia, where he manages to sneak the ball past the goalkeeper despite the problematic angle and extreme quality needed. Don’t expect Sayyadmanesh to score from every shot past the halfway line, but his finishing is genuinely impressive, constantly aiming and often finding the bottom corners.

Rangers Review:

Outside of goalscoring, he remains a threat. His xA per 90 of 0.14 is significant for a striker, and his shot assists and key passes per 90 are found above the 80th percentile. The image below is an excellent example of Sayyadmanesh finding one of his fellow forwards with a well placed and lofted cross, which leaves little for his teammate to do but tap it in.

Rangers Review:

The Iranian can also play on either wing, though he is more predominantly found on the right when not playing centrally. This is abundantly evident when you see his effectiveness and swagger on the ball, which allows him to beat his defensive matchup relatively easily, assisted by his decent pace.

Sayyadmanesh is not a natural replacement for any of the Rangers forwards, though this isn't necessarily bad. He is the closest thing you can get to a modern complete-forward at his age and price, and as such, should rank highly amongst striker targets if and when one of Morelos, Roofe, or even Cedric Itten leave.