Semih Kaya 22 Defender Galatasaray Turkey
2013 has been...
A year of consolidation for Semih Kaya despite a change of coach. Galatasaray replaced Fatih Terim with Roberto Mancini, but one of the constants across the switch has been the growing presence of Kaya – “rock”, to you and me – in the centre of the Gala defence. After establishing himself as a first choice in 2012/13, the Turkish defender has stood his ground in 2013/14 and continues to look really rather good.
Kaya completed his youth education at Galatasaray and established himself by way of a couple of loan spells, and is an embryonic version of the centre back every coach wants in his team.
He is an elegant reader of the game, covering his left back without hesitation, and just seems to glide into the right place more often than not. He is good in possession, opting usually to keep the ball simply and effectively, and he’s very quick across the ground. What sets him apart, though, is a good instinct for danger. Combined with his positioning, that makes him a real prospect.
You won’t catch him diving in very often – he tends to be a useful obstacle, and he’s not averse to using a sly old trick like shielding the ball when it’s out of playing distance. He wins battles of strength for fun, too, and can be absolutely impeccable on his day. He’s a classic, composed, strong and clever central defender.
Galatasaray like to pass the ball around at the back under Mancini and Kaya, like his frequent partner Aurelien Chedjou, is proficient in that role. He generally passes into feet in midfield, or to Chedjou, and does not mind getting it straight back or indeed carrying it forward into a more advanced position.
As you’d expect, the errors are there too. With Galatasaray really on the ropes early on in their Champions League game against FC Copenhagen in November, for example, Kaya was one of three defenders who should have been able to deal with the low cross for FCK’s opening goal, missing the opportunity to make an easy block, something he’s more often very good at. He can be beaten by tricky players relatively easily but is, for the most part, assured and emphatic.
Reported interest from Manchester United last season and Internazionale before that have not yet materialised into a move, but the day he leaves might not be too far away. If he wants to move, that is. Regular Champions League football and more trophies to add to his impressive young collection are strong incentives to stay put.
Either way, with two years left on his contract after the end of this season, Kaya’s in for a hefty pay rise before long.
He’ll be in demand, that’s for sure, and he’s a Turkish international through and through. Born in Bergama, Kaya holds the remarkable distinction of playing for the national team at Under-15, Under-16, Under-17, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-21 levels, and has become a familiar face at the back of the full national team since his debut in February 2012.
Kaya’s challenge is to make himself indispensable for club and to live up to his name for Turkey, whose stock has fallen somewhat in the last ten years or so. In Kaya, they should have a future captain upon whom to build new foundations.
"Kaya is known for keeping his cool but he hasn’t being as composed as last season and has let errors creep into this game. Galatasaray’s Achilles heel is their defence. The team lack a decent left-back and summer signing Aurelien Chedjou has yet to settle in. Kaya has been put between a rock and a hard place – no pun intended – in being part of a back four unable to keep a defensive line following the departure of Fatih Terim and injury to goalkeeper Fernando Muslera which resulted in a few weeks of chaos. Kaya is a mobile defender who reads the game well and is a decent passer of the ball. The Turkish international is by no means the finished article yet and still needs time to develop his game but there definitely is potential for the Iceman." - Emre Sarigul, turkish-football.com
"Galatasaray kept nine clean sheets in the 25 games that Kaya played in the Super Lig last season; conceding just 24 goals in total." - Opta
C+ Solid progress for a fantastic player