Arda Turan: The Enfant terrible whose attitude cost him the Barcelona dream 

Arda Turan | FI

Football is one of the most beautiful games ever created. It has the ability to bring a smile to the faces of the depressed, recognition and glory to those who battle it out day and night nursing dreams of making a career out of the game. Sadly, the game can prove to be extremely cruel at the same time. Every tale does not enjoy a fairytale ending with the promising careers and dreams of many talented youngsters shattered into a thousand pieces due to injuries, lack of compatibility with the manager’s philosophies and a clash of personalities. One such tragic case is that of the majestic Turk and bearded maestro, Arda Turan.

The 31-year-old midfielder is currently undergoing a 2-year-loan stint at Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir after being signed from Spanish giant’s FC Barcelona who were more than willing to get him off the books. One would have been deemed a naysayer if he had predicted a similar fate for the Turkish midfielder who enjoyed the ability to operate as a midfielder as well as a winger during his glorious spell at Atletico Madrid since 2011.

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Turan developed a reputation of being one of the most influential and effective midfielders in the league, contributing both in attack and defence. The Turkey international contributed with 22 goals and 32 assists in overall 177 appearances for Atletico Madrid emerging as match-winner and a constant thorn in the plans of the opposition. His desire to constantly keep improving at each stage resulted in him being labelled as a “workhorse” by fans and experts alike. The 2013/14 season marked the Turkish international’s best season at Atletico Madrid contributing with 9 goals and 10 assists.

This was no surprise for Atletico manager Diego Simeone who opted to invest in his services after his impressive performances for Turkish giants Galatasaray where he operated as a wide playmaker/ midfielder resulting in him being handed the number 10 jersey as well as the captain’s armband. Turan’s ability to dribble past opponents with skill and precision along with the ability to contribute with goals and assists encouraged the Argentinian to take a punt on him. Simeone opted to target Turan as one of his first ever transfers after being appointed as the gaffer of Atletico Madrid which emerged as nothing short of a coup.

Turan was neither the fastest nor the most technically gifted of all the footballers in the league. However, what he surely did not lack was intelligence with regard to inch-perfect positioning and utilizing his physicality effectively. The presence of someone like Turan in the opposition sent a shudder down the spine of the opponents, having developed a reputation of enjoying an ability to force anyone off the ball with great aggression. Simeone was effusive in his praise for the midfielder with his comments indicating how highly he rated the Turkish International-

“Arda is a player who gives us rhythm and has the timing in order to combine the midfield with the defense, the wings and the attack.

“When he is playing well he causes a lot of problems, he is a fundamental player for us.”

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At the same time, despite all the strengths enjoyed, Turan also enjoyed a reputation of being the “enfant terrible” of the La Liga with his reckless behaviour and poor attitude. The midfielder narrowly escaped a ban after throwing his boot at the linesman following an unfavourable decision in a clash against Barcelona. Turan even went on to force a hasty exit from international football after being accused of verbally and physically abusing a 70-year-old journalist on a flight following an article regarding his pay dispute during the Euro 2016.

The currently 31-year-old footballer even went on to threaten a journalist aggressively recently after he attempted to interact with his wife regarding their wedding which had taken place some time back. “Be respectful, or I will crush your head and eyes! You’re talking to my wife” said the Turkey International.

Barcelona manager Luis Enrique who was a vocal fan of his capabilities decided to invest in the services of Turan considered adding his abilities to the Barcelona gameplay as a replacement for Barcelona legend Xavi. However, the transfer ban imposed on Barcelona resulted in Turan being sidelined for as long as 6 months which proved to be the death knell for his career.

Arda sat out for those months and slowly started piling up the kilos due to low agility resulting in sluggishness. This was an unacceptable quality at a top club like Barcelona where the crowds demanded players who enjoyed peak fitness and a brand of football suitable to their footballing culture. It all went downhill for the Turk from there with the lack of quality game time and fitness resulting in constant mistakes on the pitch and droop in confidence. His lack of hunger and desire to make a mark in a tough environment proved to be the downfall for a midfielder who was considered the perfect addition to the technically sound Barcelona midfield. At the same time, Turan was also deployed in a role and philosophy which was completely different from that of Atletico Madrid. The midfielder was expected to transform into a possession-based midfielder from the right-sided winger expected to contribute in counter-attack under Diego Simeone.

Turkey captain failed to make his presence felt on the face of intense competition faced from the likes of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic in a new role as well as the massive expectations at a club like Barcelona.

Turan’s sluggish performances and inability to adapt to the new culture encouraged the management to cut their losses on him and pack him off on a 2-year-loan having rejected a 50 million offer from a CSL club for his services in the past. The Turkish international will certainly hold the regret of not being able to emerge as one of the successful additions at Barcelona with his case a perfect example of how cruel the game can prove to be for those who lack the correct attitude to succeed.