Arda Guler may only be 18 years of age, but he was one of the most in-demand players in the 2023 summer transfer market.
Although several clubs were interested in the Turkey international, Real Madrid won the race for his signature and he is set to form part of Los Blancos’ 2023/24 first-team squad.
Guler joins Real Madrid from Turkish side Fenerbahçe, where the left-footed playmaker was one of the most important players at the club last season, as he topped the stats charts for assists per 90 minutes, key passes per 90 minutes, successful dribbles per 90 minutes and more.
In 2022/23, Guler’s performances helped the Istanbul side to lift the Turkish Cup, with the teenager even named man of the match of the final.
It’s clear that Guler has the potential to become a generational talent, thanks to his silky footwork, crisp passing and intelligence beyond his years.
Able to play as a central attacking midfielder or as a winger, typically down the right, Carlo Ancelotti will adore Guler’s versatility and the youngster could earn many minutes on the right wing in Real Madrid’s 4-3-3 formation, especially in the matches when Rodrygo starts at centre-forward.
Here are five things you might not yet know about Arda Guler”
1. Guler hails from Ankara, the capital of Turkey
Guler has grown up developing his football skills in Turkey’s capital city, which is Ankara, and in the country’s biggest city, which is Istanbul.
At the age of nine, he started playing in the academy of local Ankara club Gençlerbirliği and quickly caught the attention of the scouts of the Istanbul clubs.
It was in 2019, just before his 14th birthday, that he made the switch to Fenerbahçe. There, he really impressed with the U19 team, so much so that he was given his Fenerbahçe senior debut when just 16 years and 174 days old in a Europa League qualification match.
2. He is the youngest scorer in the history of the Turkish national team
Given how he caught the eye after debuting for Fenerbahçe, it didn’t take long for Guler to be called up for the Turkey national team. He currently has four international caps to his name and scored his first goal for The Crescent Stars in his most recent outing, a Euro 2024 qualifier against Wales.
That goal, in March of 2023, made him the youngest ever player to score a goal for the Turkish national team in a competitive match, at just 18 years and 114 days old.
3. The challenge of replacing Mesut Ozil
One of the players Guler is frequently compared to is former Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Ozil, and the youngster was actually able to learn from the Germany international given that Ozil was in the Fenerbahçe squad when he broke through.
Then, when Ozil departed the Istanbul club in the summer of 2022, it was Guler who inherited the former Madridista’s No.10 jersey, which is an especially important shirt number at the Turkish club since it once belonged to the legendary Alex De Souza.
Guler grew up idolising the Brazilian and handled the pressure of wearing the No. 10 of Fenerbahçe with incredible maturity.
4. His father encouraged him to become a left-footer
Guler’s left foot is magic and his touch is silky smooth, and his father played a role in this. When the new Real Madrid player was a toddler, his father, Umit, would place balloons in front of Guler’s left foot to encourage him to kick with his left side and practice.
“We didn’t have any left-footers in our family, so I put balloons and footballs in front of his left foot so he would use it more,” his father once explained in an interview with Goal.
5. The penalty he ‘saved’ as a ballboy
When Guler was in the Gençlerbirliği academy, one of the tasks was to work as a ballboy during certain matches.
In one game in 2018, in which his club’s senior men’s team faced Trabzonspor, the away side won a penalty. Guler was close to the goal and felt he knew where the taker was going with the ball.
The 12-year-old shouted to his side’s goalkeeper, Johannes Hopf, to jump to the right. That’s exactly what the shot-stopper did, and he saved the spot kick.
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