RB Leipzig forward Alexander Sorloth was hit with a surprise this week after one of his Instagram posts was suddenly besieged by fans of his former club.
The Norway international was the target of Trabzonspor supporters who were pleading with him en masse to return to the Turkish club in their hour of striker-based need.
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Sorloth spent the 2019-20 campaign on loan at Trabzonspor from Crystal Palace, enjoying a renaissance that saw him finish top goal scorer in the Super Lig with 24 goals in 34 appearances. He netted 33 goals in 49 appearances in all competitions, which saw him become Trabzonspor’s highest-scoring foreign player in a single season — breaking a record previously held by club legend Shota Arveladze (29 goals).
After his loan at Trabzonspor ended, Palace sold Sorloth to RB Leipzig last summer for €20 million. He has not been as prolific in Germany, with five goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances.
Partly fuelled by Sorloth’s prodigious upturn in form, Trabzonspor finished second in the Super Lig table in 2019-20, ultimately missing out on the title to Istanbul Basaksehir by just four points.
However, it was a very different story come 2020-21 as the club finished fourth having scored just 50 league goals in total — the lowest tally of any side in the top half of the table.
Indeed, only one member of the Trabzonspor squad reached double figures in the Super Lig, with right winger Caleb Ekuban amassing 10 goals — twice as many goals as centre-forward Benik Afobe (5).
Therefore, in a desperate need to revive their ailing strike force, Trabzonspor fans flocked to social media to beg Sorloth to leave Leipzig and return to the Senol Gunes Stadium next year.
It all came after the forward shared a fairly benign photo of himself training with the Norway national side on Instagram which quickly turned into one of the most traffic-heavy posts on the platform.
Over 3.2 million fans laid siege to the post, most of them simply commenting “Come to Trabzonspor” — a reference to the viral campaign launched by fellow Turkish club Besiktas a few years ago, in which new signings were announced in much the same way.
— Şampiyon Beşiktaş JK 🏆🏆 (@Besiktas) August 2, 2017
To put that in some kind of perspective, while a few of Lionel Messi’s Instagram posts go above the 100k comment count, it usually averages around 25-50k.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the single most popular person on Instagram with 293 million followers, yet still an average post receives somewhere between 30-60k comments.
Rounding out the top three, a standard Insta missive from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (242 million followers) garners around 10-20k comments from fans, while Ariana Grande (240 million followers) only averages around 50-100k comments per post.
Same goes for Beyonce (rough average comment count of around 20-40k), Kim Kardashian (20-40k), and even Justin Bieber (5-15k).
As his phone presumably began to melt in his palm. things finally got so hectic that Sorloth was forced to resort to address Trabzonspor fans directly, pleading with them to leave him alone.
“I appreciate your love and support but please stop calling and sending me messages,” the 25-year-old wrote on Twitter. “It makes my life very stressful. Enough is enough.”
Alexander Sørloth had over 3 million comments on his latest Instagram post from Trabzonspor fans, asking him to return to the club.
He had to ask them to stop. Turkish fans are something else 😅🇹🇷 pic.twitter.com/XZqBddxDHZ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 3, 2021
Turkish fans definitely have previous in this regard, with Diego Costa the subject of a mass online mobbing in 2017 as Besiktas supporters begged him to return from the Chinese Super League and sign for their club.
Costa posted a similarly innocuous photo of himself with Sao Paulo midfielder Petros Araujo on Instagram that was almost instantly bombarded with over 2.2 million near-identical comments imploring him to “Come to Besiktas”.
This saw Costa unwittingly break the previous year’s Insta record for comments on a single post, which was the 1.1 million comments added to an image shared by singer and actress Selena Gomez.
There can truly be no greater passion on the planet than that which arises on social media when a Turkish football club find themselves in dire need of a decent striker.