Young Turkish international Zeki Çelik has today joined LOSC Lille, signing a 5-year contract for a fee rumoured to be between €2m and €3m. The recruitment team of Lille was able to secure Çelik’s signature despite competition from other clubs both in Turkey and the rest of Europe. Lille’s new signing will feature largely on the right side of defence where he made 36 appearances for Istanbulspor this past season.
Just the second Turkish player to ever wear the red and blue of Lille, Çelik will be hoping to quickly establish himself in his first venture outside of his native country. His physical strength, quickness, technique, and ability on the counter-attack should speed up his acclimation to Les Dogues and the senior team.
Çelik is joining one of Ligue 1’s worst defensive outfits, having conceded 67 goals throughout the 2016/17 Ligue 1 season. However, Lille’s current right-back Kevin Malcuit should not shoulder as much of the blame. The French defender was one of Lille’s few bright spots in an otherwise bleak season and will be a difficult teammate to displace. It’s highly possible that Çelik will start off the season as Malcuit’s understudy, but the Turkish defender could also play in other positions across the backline.
In the club’s official communication announcing the signing of Çelik, the Turkish defender expressed his excitement in joining Les Dogues. The right-back said, “I’ve been able to learn about the Domaine de Luchin (Lille’s training grounds). The facilities are very nice and large. You feel like there’s a real emphasis put on the development and future of young players. Here you have everything you need to grow.”