Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea target Yilmaz top hitman for Turks

By Stuart McKinley

Cristiano Ronaldo has already had a major say in a game against Northern Ireland this season.

Now a man who can claim to have outdone the Portuguese superstar is posing a threat to Michael O'Neill's team.

Burak Yilmaz will lead the attack for Turkey in Friday night's friendly in Adana and Jonny Evans should know all about him.

The Galatasaray hitman scored the winner in a Champions League game against Manchester United last season – one of six he scored in group matches.

Ronaldo also struck half a dozen times, but Yilmaz played fewer minutes and that was enough to see him selected as the top player in the group stages of the competition.

His tally at domestic level in 2012-13 was rather impressive, with 24 goals in 30 games and he also scored in six successive Champions League games, equalling a record previously held by former Arsenal striker Marouane Chamakh during his time with Bordeaux.

It's little wonder then that Jose Mourinho is keen to bring the 28-year-old to Chelsea in January, with Demba Ba possibly offered in return.

Galatasaray's new manager Roberto Mancini will be reluctant to allow his leading marksman to leave the club – at least without a rather handsome transfer fee being paid – after likening the striker to French great Thierry Henry.

"Burak isn't the type of striker to play with his back to goal," said Mancini.

"He is a striker that is better suited to playing looking towards goal and it's up to us to develop his skill set.

"From now on he is also going to play on the right as well as the left flank just like Thierry Henry did for Arsenal. Burak has the ability to play a similar role."

Yilmaz is also a man in-form at international level.

In seven appearances for Turkey this season he has netted six times, albeit his goals haven't come against the most glamourous of opposition.

He scored in both games on a World Cup double-header in March, against Andorra and Hungary. That was followed-up with a goal in a summer friendly against Ghana before goals in the return game against Andorra in September and one in Romania. Last month Yilmaz netted against Estonia.

TURKEY SQUAD: Bilal Kisa (Akhisar Belediyespor), Gökhan Töre, Olcay Sahan, Tolga Zengin, Ersan Adem Gülüm, Oguzhan Özyakup (Besiktas), Serdar Aziz (Bursaspor), Serkan Kirintili, Koray Altinay (Çaykur Rizespor), Tarik Çamdal, Aytaç Kara (Eskisehirspor), Salih Uçan, Gökhan Gönül, Caner Erkin, Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahçe), Burak Yilmaz, Umut Bulut, Emre Çolak, Semih Kaya (Galatasaray), Ugur Çiftçi (Gençlerbirligi), Ishak Dogan (Kardemir Karabükspor), Adem Büyük (Kasimpasa), Aydin Karabulut (Sivasspor), Aykut Demir, Zeki Ayvaz (Trabzonspor), Arda Turan (Atletico Madrid), Sercan Sararer (Stuttgart), Mevlüt Erdinç (Saint Etienne).

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