Exploring the Possibilities: Nihat

During the first full week of the summer transfer window, New England Soccer Today will examine three players that may be targeted by the New England Revolution for a summer transfer. While the Revolution have revealed little in terms of which player(s) has been targeted, three possibilities have emerged. In the third part of this series, Sean Donahue spotlights Nihat, the former Besiktas striker who may fit the bill as a potential transfer target.

While the rumors linking Turkish International Nihat Kahveci to MLS have linked him to the Los Angeles Galaxy, it’s not too farfetched to imagine that the experienced striker could also be a target of the New England Revolution.

With Nihat getting a release from his Besiktas contract and, reportedly, having a desire to leave his native Turkey, the 31-year-old is an intriguing option for clubs across the globe looking to bolster their attacking corps. Though his recent stint in Turkey has been less than stellar, Nihat has enjoyed an impressive career that includes over 75 goals in Spain’s La Liga for Real Sociedad and Villareal and over 30 goals in two stints with Besiktas in the Turkish Süper Lig.

So why might he be a target of the Revs? Well, for starters, Rajko Lekic hasn’t played up to the expectations born of his successful goal scoring record in Denmark. Sure, some of the blame rests with the lack of quality service as well as the unrealistic expectation of producing Taylor Twellman-like numbers. But, even in light of these issues, the fact remains that Lekic, who’s scored only three goals in 15 games, has simply failed to impress.

And, of course, there’s that small matter of head coach Steve Nicol’s scouting trip to Europe back in May and according to the Boston Globe to evaluate a player who “is among the top goal-scorers in his national team’s history.” At the start of the season Nicol said his target was in Turkey. Nihat fits the bill as the fifth leading goal scorer all-time for Turkey with 19 goals and having spent the previous two seasons in the Süper Lig.

Unlike Simao, Nihat did not play in the Turkish Cup Final for Besiktas while Nicol was in Europe, but interestingly enough the striker did ask for – and get – his release from the club just a week later.

At five-foot-nine, Nihat may not be an ideal target striker, but with his pedigree, he could prove the perfect second striker to add to the Revs attack, either next to Lekic or someone else. In fact, some of Nihat’s most successful seasons came at Real Sociedad when paired with a striker with a similar build to Lekic, the six-foot-one Serbian Darko Kovacevik. In the 02-03, 03-04 and 04-05 seasons, Nihat would score a combined 50 league goals, while his partner Kovacevik would add 36. If Nihat could find even a fraction of that success in a partnership with Lekic, he’d be well worth adding to the team.

However, assuming the current rumors of Nihat landing in L.A. prove true,  the move would open the door for another intriguing possibility.

Should the Galaxy sign Nihat as a Designated Player, they’ll need to jettison one of their three current DPs – Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Juan Pablo Angel. With Angel the likely candidate, another possibility to aid the Revs may emerge – via trade.

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About Sean Donahue

Sean Donahue has been covering the New England Revolution since 2002 for various publications. He has covered four MLS Cups, in addition to covering various international matches, including World Cup Qualifying and the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He has done freelance work for the AP and ESPN Boston. Sean hosted Revolution Recap, a weekly radio program covering the New England Revolution and U.S. Men's National Team from 2005-2008. He is a member of the North American Soccer Reporters. Sean can be reached at nesoccertoday@gmail.com or followed on twitter @SeanLDonahue