"I am very impressed," said Robin van Persie after being mobbed by Fenerbahçe fans on arriving in Turkey, with the Dutchman's arrival symbolic of a major overhaul at the club.
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"What I have witnessed is just unbelievable," said Robin van Persie after a huge crowd of Fenerbahçe fans greeted him at the airport in Istanbul, the Dutchman's arrival from Manchester United symbolic of the club's determination not to fall short again.
The Yellow Canaries finished runners-up to Galatasaray in Turkey last season – never an acceptable situation – but as they return to the UEFA Champions League, the Kadikoy side are thinking very big indeed. With new Italian director of football Guilano Terraneo pulling the strings, Fenerbahçe will emerge from the summer break transformed, with the 31-year-old Van Persie one of a raft of significant signings.
Terraneo has made radical changes in a bid to rejuvenate the team. Portuguese coach Vítor Pereira has taken charge having won last term's Greek title with Olympiacos, in addition to the two he landed in Portugal as Porto boss. He in turn helped oversee the acquisition of São Paulo midfielder Souza and two Porto alumni, defender Abdoulaye Ba and goalkeeper Fabiano. The arrivals of Simon Kjær (LOSC Lille), Nani (also United), Şener Özbayraklı and Fernandão (both Bursaspor) and Miroslav Stoch (back from a loan spell at al-Ain) give Fenerbahçe first-rate alternatives for every position.
Van Persie's signing, however, has taken the recruitment drive to the next level, Fenerbahçe happy to invest serious money to resolve a perceived problem in the finishing department. With their forwards accounting for just 21 of their 60 top-flight strikes last season, out-and-out goalscorers were required and Van Persie is expected to provide the cutting edge, paired with powerful Brazilian Fernandão – the 2014/15 Süper Lig leading scorer at Bursaspor.
The arms race for forwards has been a significant element in the build-up to the new campaign, with Lukasz Podolski's move from Arsenal to Galatasaray raising the ante significantly. Fenerbahçe have matched that with the Van Persie coup, though the other big Istanbul club – Beşiktaş – are having less luck finding an adequate replacement for Demba Ba, who departed for Chinese outfit Shanghai Shenhua.
Right now, though, the talk in Istanbul is about how Fenerbahçe will line up, with most predicting that Nani on the left and Mossa Sow on the right will support Van Persie and Fernandão in a 4-2-3-1 lineup. Given how much Fenerbahçe fans warmed to his compatriots Pierre van Hooijdonk and Dirk Kuyt, Van Persie is already feeling the love. "I know I will be playing in front of fantastic fans," he said. "I will do everything I can to please them." Succeed and the scenes he witnessed at the airport will look like a tea party.