Be­sik­tas on track to be­come Euro­pean force, says Fer­nan­des

Tehran Times - - WORLD SPORTS -

Be­sik­tas have dom­i­nated Turk­ish foot­ball and now the Is­tan­bul gi­ants are on the right path to be­com­ing a Euro­pean force, ac­cord­ing to for­mer mid­fielder Manuel Fer­nan­des.

Once Is­tan­bul’s third club be­hind bit­ter ri­vals Galatasaray and Fener­bahce, Turk­ish cham­pi­ons Be­sik­tas are now one of Europe’s cult fa­vorites hav­ing emerged from the shad­ows of their noisy neigh­bors.

They have won back-to-back Su­per Lig ti­tles and started a so­cial me­dia phe­nom­e­non with the use of phrase ‘Come to Be­sik­tas’ to an­nounce sign­ings on Twit­ter.

It was used to un­veil the ar­rival of Pepe from Real Madrid, while for­mer Manch­ester City and Va­len­cia striker Al­varo Ne­gredo also made the move to Voda­fone Park, which has fast be­come an ap­peal­ing des­ti­na­tion for play­ers. While Be­sik­tas are poised to bow out of the Cham­pi­ons League last 16 – trail­ing Bay­ern Mu­nich 5-0 head­ing into Wed­nes­day’s re­turn leg – Fer­nan­des be­lieves Senol Gunes’ men can es­tab­lish them­selves among the elite.

Loko­mo­tiv Mos­cow star and Por­tu­gal in­ter­na­tional Fer­nan­des, who spent three years at Be­sik­tas – win­ning the 2010-11 Turk­ish Cup af­ter more than 100 ap­pear­ances across all com­pe­ti­tions – told Om­nis­port: “Be­sik­tas have the right struc­ture and the best fan base to be­come a Euro­pean force.

“I’m sure that if they in­vest in their youth sys­tems, in a mat­ter of a few years they can fight with the strong­est in Europe.

“The first step is to con­sis­tently dom­i­nate do­mes­tic foot­ball, which they have in the past years and then grow up in­ter­na­tion­ally.

“This year Be­sik­tas won their Cham­pi­ons League group, beat­ing Monaco, Porto and RB Leipzig, so they are on the right path.”

Re­flect­ing on his time at Be­sik­tas, the 32-year-old and World Cup hope­ful, added: “My years at Be­sik­tas were great. The club was un­der­go­ing some ma­jor changes and in­vest­ing in great play­ers. Our foot­ball was very at­tack­ing and at­trac­tive to watch.

“To play along­side those play­ers was per­fect, every­one knew what the oth­ers would do next. Good times.

“In Turkey, every­one - lit­er­ally every­one - loves their club like a mem­ber of his fam­ily. That’s how ob­ses­sive Turks are about their foot­ball.

“The at­mos­phere in sta­di­ums is awe­some, es­pe­cially when Be­sik­tas play at home. To any true foot­ball fan, I rec­om­mend vis­it­ing Is­tan­bul and watch­ing a Be­sik­tas match live.”

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