Motherwell became the first Scottish Premiership victims of the January transfer window when they announced…
It’s fair to say Nadir Ciftci hasn’t had the best of times since swapping Tannadice for Celtic Park back in 2015.
Just four goals in 28 appearances since being shipped out on loan makes for grim reading for the Turkish striker, who has failed to impress in any of his last three loan spells across Europe.
With Louis Moult departing for Preston at the start of the month, Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell side have had a gaping hole at the head of their attack. Ciftci represents a cheaper alternative to Moult; a short-term fix while the Steelmen look for a more permanent solution.
The Northern Irishman has identified Ciftci as the man to fill the void left by Moult, at least until the end of the season – the question is, is he right to do so?
One possible defence of Ciftci’s recent scoring record is that he has been struggling to get a run of consecutive starts, generally for sides that haven’t really got going in their respective divisions.
At Poland’s Pogon Szczecin, Ciftci rarely got a look in. At Plymouth earlier this season, he didn’t even score in eight appearances. During his most successful loan spell in his native Turkey with Eskisehirspor at the start of 2016, Ciftci made 12 appearances for his team and found the net on four occasions. Robinson will almost certainly need to work on Ciftci’s match fitness, having started only 24 matches since leaving Dundee United in the summer of 2015.
The former Dundee United striker is unlikely to add too many goals then, but Ciftci has other talents for Robinson to maximise.
If Ciftci’s recent scoring record is so poor, albeit with some perhaps excusable spells where he suffered from being at the wrong club at the wrong time, then why have Motherwell brought him to Fir Park?
First off, it’s important to remember the player we know Ciftci is capable of being. During his heyday at Dundee United, the Turk was primarily renowned for his all-round play, as opposed to his goals. During his most prolific campaign at Tannadice, the striker only hit 14 league goals in a season that secured him a move to Celtic.
Crucially for the striker, at Fir Park Ciftci will come into a tactical setup that favours his style of play. The 25-year-old and Moult aren’t dissimilar players – both are strong target men who are capable of holding the ball up as well as spearheading attacks. During his two seasons at Tannadice, Ciftci provided 20 assists for his teammates.
Robinson will be well aware of this – in all likelihood, while the Motherwell boss will be hoping the forward can bring a few more goals to his side, Ciftci is likely to be used primarily for his abilities at holding up play and setting up teammates. Expect to see a greater reliance on Ryan Bowman for goals, who has found the net nine times so far this season for the Steelmen.
The former Dundee Utd striker has 18 months left to run on his contract and will be keenly aware of the need to secure a contract next season away from Celtic Park. Ciftci has been given this latest chance to prove himself at this level – he will need to hit the ground running if it is not to be his last.