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Arda Turan: The Rise and the Fall

Published 23 Oct 2018, 15:19 IST
23 Oct 2018, 15:19 IST

From being the most expensive Turkish footballer of all time when he joined Atletico Madrid from Galatasaray to being indicted for assault and illegal possession of weapons, Arda Turan has seen his career reach its highest and its lowest, or one of its lowest so far.

As much Turan battled to make a name for himself during the first years of his career, the fall that followed next was a nosedive. The Turkish attacking midfielder has always had rage issues and exhibited erratic behaviour, but he used to either control them or use them to his advantage in his gameplay. Yet, what was an explicit trait of his quality and ferocious style of play, seems now to have doomed his career.

Turan during his spell at Galatasaray
Turan during his spell at Galatasaray

The Rise

Turan, born in 1987, rose from the ranks of Galatasaray's academy. He made his professional debut in January 2005 before joining Manisaspor on a brief, one-year loan. He returned stronger than ever.

In the 2006-07 season, Arda guided the club to the UEFA Champions League group stage through the 3rd position in the Süper Lig. In his first season as a regular first-team Galatasaray player, Turan found the net 7 times and provided 12 assists in a total of 33 appearances across all competitions. He was used mainly on the wings, either left or right.

In the next season, Turan was key to the club finishing first in the league. He scored 8 times and set up another 21 goals in the Turkish league, the Turkish Cup and the UEFA Cup. Prior to the start of the 2009-10 season, Turan, 22 years old at the time, was named the captain of the team and was given the No. 10 jersey.

In his last season in Turkey, Turan struggled with injuries and as a result, he registered just 6 goals and 3 assists. Nevertheless, the foundations of his move away from his home country had been already established. His 44 goals and 76 assists in 190 appearances came in support.

Even if his posture was not imposing, Arda built his own reputation around his hard-working attitude and his creative vision on the field. He rose to prominence as a tenacious, consistent midfielder who combined perfectly exceptional technical qualities with speed and intelligence. As a result, a lot of top-flight clubs inquired about his availability. Atletico Madrid won the race.

Turan stayed 4 seasons at Madrid being one of the most important players in Simeone
Turan stayed 4 seasons at Madrid being one of the most important players in Simeone's project

The Atletico years

Towards the end of the summer of 2011, Turan moved to Atletico Madrid for a fee of €13 million . That amount made his transfer the most expensive ever of a Turkish player. A few months later, in December, the era of Diego Simeone commenced, and Turan was an excellent fit into his coach's ideas.


Simeone's hardened, compact, defense-first philosophy needed a player like Turan, and Turan needed a disciplined and passionate coach like Simeone. With the Argentinian, the midfielder elevated his game. He instantly became a regular first-team member and won the Europa League plus the UEFA Super Cup in his first season in Madrid.

In the case of Turan's years as an Atletico player, numbers do lie. Even if he would never meet his Galatasaray's scoring and assisting performances, his role in the Rojiblancos' game was pivotal. Turan played usually on the left wing but his duties were far greater. Armed with an excellent vision on the field, the Turkish was the middle-man linking compact defenses to exciting counter-attacks.

He was always the first player to commence full pressing into the opponents' area and the first to lead the counter-attack when the ball was recovered. He was an attacking-minded, speedy and versatile midfielder. A speed not only physical but also in thought.

During his spell in the capital of Spain, Turan won also the LaLiga title and the Copa Del Rey. His impact on Atletico's game was tremendous and Simeone usually hailed his player's performances. But for every up, there is a down.

As a Barcelona player, Turan never managed to recreate his past performances
As a Barcelona player, Turan never managed to recreate his past performances

The Barcelona Years

The 2014-15 season was the last for Turan as a Rojiblanco. In January of 2015, during the Copa Del Rey quarterfinal against Barcelona, he threw his boot towards the assistant referee during an act of complaining about a foul by Ivan Rakitic. Fortunately, he missed the target, but the referee punished him with only a yellow card. Even after the end of the match and the video review, he avoided any further ban.

A few months later, in April, Turan was sent off during the Champions League quarterfinal against rivals Real Madrid. Atletico lost eventually and was eliminated from the tournament. In May, Turan played his last game for Atletico in a loss against Barcelona.

Turan signed for Barcelona on July 2015 for a fee of €34 million but he could not play until the following January as Barcelona was under a transfer ban. The Turk never managed to find his place in Catalonia. In his best season as a Blaugrana player (2016-17), Turan registered 13 goals and 7 assists across all competitions.

The Fall

Turan is currently at Turkish side Başakşehir on loan from Barcelona
Turan is currently at Turkish side Başakşehir on loan from Barcelona

The last season was the tip of Turan's career downhill. He played not even for a minute for Barcelona and in January 2017, he was loaned out to Turkish side Başakşehir for 2.5 years.

The second incident of Turan's unstable, erratic personality took place in June 2017. In a period where Turkey's National Team was in the center of wild criticism after a disappointing performance at Euro 2016, Turan verbally and physically attacked Turkish journalist, Bilal Mese, during the team's flight back from an away game.

Turkey's coach, Fatih Terim, excluded Turan from the squad and subsequently, the player announced that he would quit the National Team, a decision he retracted two months later.

After his return to Turkey, Turan managed to make 10 appearances with his new club before being handed out a 10-match ban. The reason was that, during Başakşehir's game with Sivasspor, Turan insulted, threatened and pushed the assistant referee for a decision of his. His behavior earned him a red card and a 16-match ban from the Turkish Federation, which was later reduced to 10 games. His club also punished him with a €10,000 fine.

Fast-forward to a few days ago, Turan was reportedly involved in a brawl at a Turkish nightclub. He picked up a fight with the Turkish singer, Berkay, after harassing his wife, and broke his nose. The singer was immediately transferred to a nearby hospital which Turan visited a little after only to fire a shot with his pistol, fortunately without injuring anyone.

Following his prosecution, Turan was indicted for assault and illegal possession of weapons and he is facing a penalty up to 12 and a half years in prison. Moreover, Başakşehir announced that they will issue a €370,000 fine to the player.

That was not the last time Turan's name has been in the front papers for the wrong reasons. According to the latest reports, 'The Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has launched an investigation into footballers Emre Belözoğlu, Arda Turan, Okan Buruk, and Bülent Korkmaz for their alleged links to FETÖ, the group believed to have been behind a 2016 coup attempt in Turkey'.


Modified 20 Dec 2019, 19:20 IST
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