analysis | 2015-07-11
What can Arda Turan bring to Barcelona's midfield?
We’ve seen Arda be a crucial player for Atletico Madrid during the last four seasons. He’s played in Atleti’s midfield alongside the likes of Koke, Gabi, Mario Suárez, Tiago, Diego Ribas, Oliver Torres and Raúl García through all these years in Spain. Simeone’s midfield has been known for being tough, aggressive and gritty. That’s been the brand of the house, and inside that midfield, one player has been the light that shone the brightest with his incredible technical skills: Arda Turan.
Turan was the one capable of getting by two, three or four opponents with ease, thanks to his great dribbling ability. Arda also possessed a brilliant first touch that allowed him to receive the ball in tight spaces, surrounded by the opposing defense and not lose it. In a good way, he was the odd man out in Atletico’s midfield. He was the magic – the creativeness that helped Simeone give his team an offensive outlet that made the team better in a technical aspect.
At 28, Arda Turan is the newest player in the FC Barcelona squad. Now he’ll be surrounded by Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Andrés Iniesta, Rafinha and Messi – during the phases of the game where Barcelona’s No. 10 drops back in midfield – in a completely different scenario to what he was accustomed to in the Vicente Calderón. Arda will be able to do one-twos with Busquets, Iniesta, Alves, Messi, Alba and Neymar – six of the most technically gifted players in the world. He’ll be able to run with the ball and not after it, like he was used to under Simeone, something that will give him a sigh of relief.
But where will he fit in Barcelona’s system? Simple. He’ll fit in Iniesta’s role. The Turk has a profound admiration for the Spaniard. Arda, just like Iniesta, possess the ability to dribble past any defender he desires. Neither of them are the fastest players on the pitch, but thanks to their incredible dribbling ability and quickness, they’re able to get by any opponent in the world when they please.
In that sense, Turan can replace Iniesta in the midfield in a lot of matches and Barcelona won’t lose any quality with the move. Iniesta isn’t a young 24-year-old “kid” anymore. He’s 31 and he gets banged up a lot due to his role in Barça’s midfield. Therefore, Luis Enrique will surely want to ration Andrés’ minutes in a season that Barcelona will be competing for six different titles. So it wouldn’t be far-fetched at all to see a midfield made up of Rakitic, Busquets and Arda for a lot of games.
If Barcelona face a team that pressures them really high up the pitch, then Turan can help a lot during these kinds of situations, because he can drop back and help break down the opposing pressure. Arda can receive the ball in Barcelona’s own half, get by two or three players and then lay off the ball to one of the MSN members up top for a devastating counterattack. We’ve seen him do that numerous times during his days with Atleti.
Another thing he’ll be able to bring to the Catalan club is his ability to break down opposing teams that park the bus. Arda is the kind of player that can rub the genie lamp inside the penalty area with a great individual or collective play that’ll be able to break down the opposing defense. Turan, breaking down teams that park the bus, alongside Messi, Iniesta, Neymar and Suárez, will be a joy to watch without a doubt.
Simeone’s favorite system is the 4-4-2, and Arda used to play in the flanks of that formation, so some people are a little unsure if he can adapt to a more central role with Barça in the 4-3-3 system. A player with such quality can make that transition with complete ease. Another thing to remember is that Arda ended up in the middle of the pitch during a lot of that time, so it’s not like he was a true winger who spent 90 minutes stuck on the wing. In essence it shouldn’t be a problem at all.
And last, but not least, he brings great defensive intensity, parallel to Rakitic, that will help Barcelona’s defense when the three strikers up top have an off-day getting back to help with defensive coverages. He’s a player that can play at a frenetic pace when the situation calls for it, but can also slow things down when needed. All in all, Barcelona are getting one hell of a player that will fit in like a glove with all the other technical geniuses in their midfield and will help Rakitic with defensive duties that end up benefiting Messi, Suárez and Neymar.
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WRITTEN BY: Rafael Aldamuy
Rafael Aldamuy is a Sports Journalist from Puerto Rico who currently lives in Barcelona. He worked in Univision and Telemundo during the 2014 Brasil World Cup as a football analyst and now he's a correspondant for LenteViral.com and writes for Grup 14.