Birmingham City have made their fifth signing of the January transfer window by bringing in former Fulham winger Kerim Frei from Besiktas on a three-and-a-half year deal.
Buying a wide man was one of Blues boss Gianfranco Zola’s main priorities.
He had also been in the market for Derby County’s Johnny Russell, as well as Robin Quaison, from Italian Serie A side Palermo.
But Birmingham have now agreed an undisclosed fee with the Turkish side, reportedly close to £2.2m.
Austria-born Frei, 23, who has won five international caps for Turkey, after representing Switzerland, where he was raised, from Under-15 through to Under-21 level.
He has a Moroccan mother, but chose to commit his international future to Turkey, the home country of his father.
Frei has been with Besiktas, since joining the Turkish side from Fulham, where he spent three seasons.
His arrival follows the completion of striker Lukas Jutkiewicz’s move from Burnley, and the signings of West Bromwich Albion midfielder Craig Gardner and full-backs Emilio Nsue and Cheick Keita from Middlesbrough and Italian side Virtus Entella respectively.
Kerim Frei could be set for a return to Fulham, according to reports in Turkey.
Turkish newspaper Sabah claims the 22-year-old winger is on the radar of the Championship club. He left Craven Cottage for Besiktas in 2013, but has fallen out of favour at the Turkish club. The winger has only played twice in the league this season and has not featured since September.
And manager Senol Gunes is reportedly willing to let the Turkey international return to Craven Cottage in January. Frei was at Fulham between 2010 and 2013, making 33 appearances in all competitions, including 23 in the Premier League He scored once for the Whites, against Odense in the Europa League.
The 22-year-old has played 99 times for Besiktas, scoring nine times. He made his international debut in 2012 and has gone on to make five appearances for Turkey.
Fulham winger Kerim Frei has completed his move from Fulham to Besiktas.
The 19-year-old Turkey international, who joined the Craven Cottage club in 2010, has decided to return to his home country in a bid to get regular first-team football.
Manager Martin Jol said: “Kerim has progressed well through his time in the Academy and into the fringes of the First Team, which enabled him to play for the Turkish national team, which is a big thing for him.
“But for him to continue this progression and to really fulfill his potential he needs to play week in, week out, and I couldn’t offer him that as part of the first team here, so we decided to accept the offer from Besiktas.
“He’s sure to have a big impact back in Turkey and I know that on a personal level it’s a good option for him.”
Jol said “As a club, because of the structure of the deal, we are still invested in his future and what we believe he’ll be able to achieve in time. I know he’ll be much happier playing, so we wish him all the best.”
Martin Jol insists he wants to keep Kerim Frei at Fulham for the long term, but will look to send the youngster out on loan to give him valuable first-team experience.
The Turkish international had been heavily linked with a move to Galatasaray during the summer and wasn’t involved in Fulham’s opening day victory at Sunderland on Saturday. The teenager endured an injury-plagued campaign last season after catching the eye as he broke into the Fulham side during the 2011-2012 season and only managed eight first-team appearances.
Frei spent a month on loan at Championship title winners Cardiff last year and Jol says he is keen to give the 19 year-old further opportunities for regular football to aid his development:
Kerim is a young lad who’s developing. He scored one goal in more than 25 matches, so he needs games. I would love to put him somewhere where he can play games and we can develop him, like we did with [Alex] Kacaniklic.