Fenerbahçe released a statement Wednesday morning revealing that Spartak Moscow have accepted a bid for the services of Emmanuel Emenike. Emenike was thought to be open to a transfer back to Fenerbahçe and is known to be a fan of the team. He even wrote a message on Twitter wishing Fenerbahçe luck in their Champions League qualifying match against Red Bull Salzburg on 6 August.
Emenike arrived in Istanbul and was faced with both fans and media to welcome him back to Turkey. Sporting a baseball cap, Emenike stated that he was excited and happy to be back in Turkey. He said that playing for Fenerbahçe was a dream for him. The Russian league started a few weeks ago and Emenike said that he felt good playing and is ready to start playing in Turkey again. In the midst of a mob of media and fans, the Nigerian also said, “Returning to Fenerbahçe is like coming home.”
Emenike previously joined the then-champions in 2011 but left without playing a single match. He was implicated in the match-fixing allegations and was accused of taking a bribe and faking injury to avoid playing against Fenerbahçe while he was at Karabükspor during the 2010-2011 season. Emenike quickly joined Spartak Moscow as the match-fixing allegations came up. Fenerbahçe paid Karabük 9 million euro and received 10 million euro when Emenike signed for Spartak Moscow.
After a year of expulsion from European competition, Fenerbahçe drew Spartak Moscow in Champions League qualifying. Emenike scored against his former team in the first leg in a 2-1 victory. The Nigerian striker was cleared of match fixing and was allowed to return to Turkey for the reverse leg in Istanbul.
Since then, Emenike has played for a Spartak that finished second and fourth in the last two seasons. He also played in the Champions League last season and scored a double away to Celtic on the second match day. Spartak ended up bottom of the group only winning against Benfica once in their six group-stage matches.
Emenike, predicted to have cost Fenerbahçe 13 million euro, joins the team at a time of high transfer discussion. Emenike and Óscar Cardozo were rumoured to join the team for over two months and now, it seems, manager Ersun Yanal and the Fenerbahçe board of directors have made their choice and finished the transfer. It is unlikely that Cardozo will join too because of financial and foreigner-limit-based reasons.
Emmanuel Emenike joins a long legacy of west African players at Fenerbahçe. Şükrü Saracoğlu Stadium has hosted some of Africa’s finest including Nigerians Uche Okechukwu and Jay-Jay Okocha in the 1990s, as well as Ghanian Stephen Appiah more recently from 2005-2008.
Emenike is also the third west African forward to join Fenerbahçe in the last two years; Senegalese Moussa Sow came to Turkey in January 2012 and Cameroonian Pierre Webó joined from İstanbul Belediyespor in January 2013. Additionally, Joseph Yobo is the most capped Nigerian international and also plays for Fenerbahçe having joined the team on a permanent basis in 2012 after two years on loan from Everton.
Slovakian winger Miroslav Stoch has also signed a deal with Thessaloniki P.A.O.K. and joins the Greek team on a one-year loan basis. With Stoch’s exit from Fenerbahçe, the number of foreigners at the team is still above the limit of ten. One more player will have to leave before the team can compete. Reports out of Turkey have stated that Swedish midfielder Samuel Holmén has not been given a licence to compete. Fenerbahçe are said to be currently looking for a team to loan him out to.
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