June 19, 2024

Tottenham Hotspur legend Gareth Bale is perhaps the most famous example of a footballer who started out in one position and then unleashed his full potential when being shifted into another area of the pitch.


From luckless left-back to world-beating winger; those glorious final days at Spurs, that trophy-laden spell at Real Madrid, that Champions League final overhead kick vs Liverpool… All of these iconic moments may have remained nothing more than a pipe dream had Harry Redknapp not had the bright idea to try the Welsh wizard a little further up the field.


A man who could yet follow in Bale’s Tottenham footsteps, meanwhile, could potentially go in the opposite direction.


HITC reported back in April that Aston Villa and Ange Postecoglou‘s capital city side are among the admirers of Galatasaray’s £22 million-rated speed machine Baris Alper Yilmaz.


One scout, speaking to HITC, felt that Yilmaz’s versatility and his impressively well-rounded skillset made him something like Turkey’s answer to Real Madrid utility man Federico Valverde. His fearsome pace and power have drawn comparisons with the aforementioned Bale, as well as Phil Foden and Kylian Mbappe to name but three.


Dries Mertens (10) of Galatasaray celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team with Baris Alper Yilmaz during the Turkish Super League matc…

Aston Villa and Tottenham in Baris Alper Yilmaz race

“They usually compare me to Mbappe,” Yilmaz tells TRT Spor. “(But) the biggest name I take as an example is Cristiano Ronaldo.”


Most of Yilmaz’s appearances in 2023/24 came on the wing, often on the right but frequently lining up on the left too. The two-footed wideman admits that his future may lie at full-back instead, however, Yilmaz maybe in line to do ‘reverse Bale’ should he find himself heading to England.


“Of course, I have dreams. As a Turk, I want to represent my country abroad,” Yilmaz adds, opening the door to both Aston Villa and Tottenham in the process.


“I do not look into transfer matters at all. I am focused on my work. My agent deals with those issues. This is our job. If it happens, what is necessary will be done. (But) I love watching the Premier League.


“If I’m going to play right-back, I watch good right-backs. And if I’m going to watch left-back, I watch good left-backs. We (at Galatasaray) also analysed Alphonso Davies before the Bayern match.”


HITC understands that, in addition to Aston Villa and Tottenham, Yilmaz also has admirers at Manchester United, AFC Bournemouth and Brighton and Hove Albion. With seven goals and 12 assists from a variety of different positions, the Turkey international was a massive part of Galatasaray’s success during a magnificent 2023/24 campaign.


Likened to Kylian Mbappe and Gareth Bale

Okan Buruk’s side broke the 100-point barrier as they snatched the Super Lig title from under the noses of Istanbul neighbours Fenerbahce. A Fenerbahce side who, desperate to end a more-than-decade long wait for domestic glory, have handed the reigns to one Jose Mourinho.


Aston Villa may have to free up some funds before they can think about any big-money signings, however, with Unai Emery’s side one of many under pressure from the Premier League’s Profit and Sustainabilty Rules.


HITC have been told Villa are determined to keep Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martinez and homegrown hero Jacob Ramsey. Offers for Douglas Luiz may be considered, however, as the Brazilian enters the final two years of his contract.


Philippe Coutinho is also likely to go, while Diego Carlos’ potential departure would also reduce the wage bill.

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