Turkey’s ambitions of making an impact at the European Championship will rest largely on their captain. However, the former Galatasaray midfielder has not enjoyed the best of seasons at Camp Nou.
The Panenka discusses whether the player shouldering the majority of his country’s hope in France can bounce back from a difficult year in Spain.
Turkey international Arda Turan joined Barcelona from Atletico Madrid in July 2015. Upon arrival he was was sidelined for six months by the club’s transfer ban which meant he only made his debut in January 2016.
Since becoming eligible to play he has failed to establish himself as a regular starter. In the wake of stiff competition the midfielder has been used mainly as a substitute or not at all
After a glorious 4 year spell with Atletico Madrid Turan has been brought back to reality with a bump. Since January he has made 25 appearances with most of those coming from the bench.
During Barcelona’s extra time victory in the Copa del Rey final he was an unused substitute and seeing such a talented player on the sidelines has alerted some of Europe’s scouts.
Manchester United and Arsenal are reportedly interested in the midfielder but speculation has already been brushed aside with the fact that the Turkey international still has four years left on his current contract.
The 29-year-old cost Barcelona fee reported to be in the region of $35 million and has done little to justify his price tag so far. One of the few records he can boast from his first season is the fact he has picked up more bookings (eight) than goals (two) and assists (four) combined.
Turan is likely to be given next season to prove his worth in Catalonia and has Euro 2016 with Turkey to showcase his talent. With pace and dazzling footwork combined with an eye for goal, he is the driving force for Turkey bossing the midfield.
At the end of the La Liga season the Turkey international posted a statement on his official Instagram account that underlined his determination to put the last 12 months behind him and push on with both club and country. “I am looking forward to the European Championships with my country and all the trophies we are going to win at my club, everything starts now,” Turan said.
His versatility could also be key for Turkey. Turan can occupy the majority of central midfield positions as well as being comfortable out wide providing valuable depth to Fatih Terim’s team.
The midfielder was on target to help his country qualify as best third placed finisher in qualification. He netted the second goal in a stunning 3-0 win against Holland before showing his abilities in wins over Czech Republic and Iceland as he continues to captain the side.
Turan is joined in midfield by by Hakan Calhanoglu, 22, of Bayer Leverkusen, one of few Turkish-origin players born in Germany to opt for their ancestral country. Selcuk Inan and Nuri Sahin are other established names that bolster Turkey’s chances.
Calhanoglu laid waste to an unwanted record when he scored for Turkey in a friendly against England. The Leverkusen midfielder scored his country’s only goal against the Three Lions in 10 matches between the two nations.
In the Bundesliga the 22-year-old is renowned for his free-kick taking abilities. This season he played in every group game of the Leverkusen’s Champions League campaign and charted overall figures of eight goals and ten assists from 46 appearances across the 2015/2016 season.
Nuri Sahin is likely to feature in the Turkey squad at Euro 2016. The Borussia Dortmund midfielder returned from a year-long layoff in February but has been named in the squad.
In the Turkish Super Lig Selcuk Inan was part of a Galatasaray team that didn’t qualify for a European competition for next season but is likely to feature in Fatih Terim’s plans. Ex-Turkey coach Addullah Avci famously dropped the 31-year-old midfielder during World Cup 2014 qualification leading to accusations that there had been a religious or sectarian conflict between Inan and Avci.
Turkey has been drawn into Group D containing reigning champions Spain, Croatia and Czech Republic. It will be a tough ask for Turkey to progress to the knockouts with coach Fatih Terim admitting, “we have fallen into one of the two strongest groups.”
During a fortunate run at Euro 2008, Terim, then in his second term with Turkey, saw his side lead the three group games and two knockout games for collectively 13 minutes out of the estimated 490 minutes they played on their way to a semi final knockout to eventual runner-up Germany.
Turkey starts their Euro 2016 campaign against Croatia in Paris on June 12.