For the first time in his life, Burak Yilmazin played for a club outside the Turkish borders last season. Do it, Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba advised, his old friends with whom he played at Galatasaray between 2013 and 2016.
Yilmaz will be 36 on July 15 this year and you can safely call him one of the big surprises in the French league. Lille brought him in in September, a bit as an emergency scenario because striker Loïc Rémy, also 33, suddenly left for Turkey. With sixteen goals last season, Burak Yilmaz had only three players above him on the list of top scorers. But they did not become champions.
Few players were more effective than him. With 1.02 goals per game, only Kylian Mbappédid better than Yilmax 0.70. Mbappé scored 26, but the difference in goals is there also because Yilmaz played much less this year. He could not play during the entire months of January and February.
Comparing the Turkish top striker to his friend Drogba may be an exaggeration, but he does sometimes remind him of him. For example, when he scored from a penalty against Lens in early May. He makes a knee slide just like Drogba once did after his winning goal in the Champions League final. Yilmaz stumbles and falls ver, but that is really the only blemish on a fantastic match. Not much later, he scores one of the most beautiful goals of the past French football season: from more than twenty meters, with his left, supposedly weak leg. The goalkeeper can only look at it. On the couch, Lille trainer Christophe Galtier kisses his colleague in surprise.
Yilmaz scores a lot of goals per game in France and he does exceptionally well on yet another striker statistic: The difference between expected goals and actual goals. That may sound a bit complicated, but it’s not that difficult. The statisticians at Fbref.com have a huge database of goals scored and the way they were scored: from afar or near, head or foot, after what kind of pass, wether or not someone got in the way and so on. On the basis of this data, the probability of each shot on target turning into a goal is calculated.
A striker with a high difference between expected and real goals is very lucky. Or he is extraordinarily effective. In France, only German striker Kevin Volland managed to get a better return than Yilmaz, once he got into scoring position.
Yilmaz has bad memories of the last European Championship, because in 2016 in France, Turkey did not even survive the group stage. He is eager to do better this year.
The Netherlands was surprised on March 24 and suffered a 4-2 defeat, thanks in part to a hat trick by Yilmaz: a free kick in the corner, a smart shot with the outside of his not so weak left foot and a penalty kick. Italy, Switzerland and Wales, Turkey’s opponents in the group stage, have been warned.