FC Barcelona may be dealing with a FIFA transfer ban for signing underage players last year, but that hasn't stopped the club from making a few signings during the summer transfer window. The latest announcement is that Barcelona signs Arda Turan, a Turkish attacking midfielder, who comes to Camp Nou from Atletico Madrid. Like every other player that signs with Barca this summer, Turan won't actually be able to participate in competitive matches for the team until January 2016. Still, the 28-year-old star seems downright ecstatic about his move to FC BarcelonaÂ -particularly about playing alongside his self-confessed idol, Andres Iniesta.
A Replacement for Iniesta?
In the days following his signing at Barcelona, Turan stated that, while Messi will always be the "best," Iniesta is his personal hero. Ironically, members of the soccer press have already begun speculating about where Turan could fit within Barca's current midfield, and one popular suggestion has been as a replacement for Iniesta.
Iniesta does fit the bill in a number of ways: for one thing, he's 31 years old and has been playing at Camp Nou since 1996. In other words, he's almost certainly nearing the twilight of his career. We saw evidence that he was slowing down 2014 2015, when he only played in 24 La Liga games-fewer league apps than he's had in any year since 2004.
Of course, it would break Turan's heart to replace his idol on Barca's starting squad-especially since he's gone on record saying that he can't wait to play alongside Iniesta at Barcelona. In any case, if Andres is worried about being phased out, he hasn't shown it. Turan said that after his signing was announced, Iniesta sent a nice message welcoming him to the soccer squad.
An Impressive Career
Besides, Luis Enrique could just as easily intend to use Arda Turan as a replacement for Xavi Hernandez. The captain and midfielder departed Barca following the conclusion of the 2014 2015 season. And while Turan has downplayed speculation that his purpose will be to fill the hole left by Hernandez ("No one can replace Xavi," he said), his football career statistics indicate that he could well be the man to fill those shoes.
Aside from a brief loan stint at Manisaspor in 2005 2006, Arda's career at this point has been made up by two impressive runs at very different clubs. From 2006 to 2011, he was a core member of Turkey's Galatasaray SK, tallying 195 overall appearances across five seasons, and scoring 45 goals.
Turan has been equally pivotal at Atletico Madrid over the past four years. He's averaged 44.5 appearances and 5.5 goals per season (overall), and has contributed to victories in the Spanish La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Supercopa de Espana, the UEFA Europa League, and the UEFA Super Cup.
While the Champions League remains one of the few major titles to elude Arda Turan, he arguably got Atletico Madrid closer to that prize than any other player. In 2013 2014, he scored the final goal in a UCL semifinal match against Chelsea, giving Atletico a 3-1 win, and earning them a spot in the championship match. (They lost the final to Real Madrid.)
Turan had another moment of brilliance in the 2014 2015 Champions League, scoring the lone goal in Atletico Madrid's home group stage victory against Juventus. The win allowed Atletico to take first place in Group A, and while they were ultimately eliminated from the tournament in the quarterfinals (again by Real Madrid), Turan's goal gave Atletico fans bragging rights over the runner-up Juventus squad.
Starting with a Loan
The Turkish footballer has expressed his reservations about a loan. After all, it's a boyhood dream come true for Turan to play for Barcelona: he doesn't want to spend the first six months of his new contract playing somewhere else. With that said, Arda would stay fit and avoid becoming rusty by taking a loan to another club, and he would be back in January once Barcelona's transfer ban is lifted. No matter what happens, we'll see Turan on the pitch at Camp Nou come the New Year.
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