Arda Guler has always been a highly regarded prospect in Turkish football, and the fact that Real Madrid paid more than just his release clause to get his services says in abundance about the belief they have in his talent.
Elite Ball Carrier with Potential
Honestly, looking at his clips in training has been a breath of fresh air. He seems to be a young lad with an experienced head and silky feet. I think that is where the comparison to the likes of Lionel Messi comes in and looking at his games for Fenerbache lately: there have been more than just glimpses of great potential as an elite ball carrier.
Let’s get one thing straight for everyone who are daydreaming about Guler with all the Messi comparisons – he is undoubtedly talented but his dribbling skills may not reach the same level as Messi’s. His range of footwork when you compare that to players like a young Cristiano Ronaldo or even Robben seems to be inferior. Nevertheless, he possesses superior agility in comparison to Norwegian players.
Concerns and Development Space
There are a few questions about Guler’s physical development and whether he will acquire the power to take on the best defenders in the world football. While I remain optimistic – it remains uncertain whether he will develop the explosive burst seen in young Messi during that iconic performance against Juventus in 2005.
What concerns me in particular with his incoming at Real Madrid is the need for regular game time that will provide him that development space to refine his skills. We have already seen Martin Odegaard suffer in terms of such development at Madrid, there at times was this hiatus in his progress which later conferred to loan moves and his frustration with Madrid led to his departure to Arsenal.
Versatility and Offensive Prowess
The thing about the long-term development of ball-carrying ability is that it comes more the more you play. The frequency of appearances complemented by the confidence to kiss the ball and stick it to the feet – the exposure to the league and way of football plays a massive part in such long-term developments.
Arda Guler carries multiple traits, and most of them are when he is running in the space centrally. He can thrive in that inside role where the game is in front of him rather than constantly battling it out with fast and agile fullbacks to get the upper hand. Watching this and how he goes about himself reminds me much of Mesut Ozil and the Martin Odegaard we are seeing at Arsenal now.
Moreover, most Real Madrid fans won’t be a stranger to his goal-scoring prowess. He has had quite a few tik-tok worthy goals in that Fener shirt that has quite achieved that viral feat. He has got the ability to execute finesse shots quite perfectly when given space and something that also demonstrates how technically powerful he is. Moreover, Guler is not shy of attempting those Rooney-esque volleys. There is still some room for development to hit the ball with his laces but that should come through with time.
Potential and Future Prospects
As earlier stated in this piece, he doesn’t get into many 1v1 situations to exploit his xG prowess. He still needs to develop that ability to get into space between the lines and behind the defenders to hit the 25-goal mark consistently through the season. Now when I say he is not made for being on the flanks – that perceives owing to his ability to beat the defender, especially the modern full-backs. But boy-oh-boy he can definitely drift out wide and put in a pinpoint on the plate crosses especially when he drifts out wide on the left (something Mesut used to do when drifting out wide right at Madrid consistently). However, Guler crossing from the right gets a bit tardy at times. There is room for improvement here to be an all-round free-roam midfielder in this Real Madrid side, making him a more versatile threat.
Guler is someone that possess that quality to dictate the pace of the game with his touches – he exhibits a natural inclination to gravitate towards the ball, demanding it from teammates and creating space for himself to receive it while making every pass count – and I think this is where the Messi comparisons come in. Demonstrating comfort in rotating the ball with passes while staying with the pace of the game while casting pathways to build-up. Damn. Although he does make errors every now and then in doing so, but I expect nothing less from a young lad still learning his trades in the men’s game.
He has shown more than just glimpses of his ability on the ball in short passes, although he does need to work on the consistency of those dinked balls atop defences. Moreover, the Turk has had some success in those precise long-range slide-through passes but he is still young and you’d expect he will understand the risk-reward assessment of slide-through passes and when to execute them.
Now coming to his passing numbers, Arda Guler’s is some reminiscent of that of Pedri but we have to consider he played in a weaker league and having sky-high expectations in those expectations straight away wouldn’t be right.
I was quite taken aback when going through his numbers and games with his aerial ability. Now it is to be kept in mind that the Turkish league by no means is the epitome of physical brilliance – although coming from the general idea of expectations out of Arda this has taken me by a bit of a surprise. He does possess the ability to win headers and out-jump opponents. When I compare his numbers to the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Kai Havertz, and Bruno Fernandes – Guler not only challenges their numbers but also surpasses them. Although it’s important to not get ahead of oneself and expect ample in these aspects. And we also need to consider these numbers are when he is competing with the fullbacks – the dynamics changes as soon as centre-backs come into the picture.
I have spoken a lot about his strengths, but his frantic passes and mistimed tackles make me chuckle – and straight on brings me to the reality that he is still a kid. He needs to definitely develop in that defensive ability aspect.
We have to keep in mind that Real Madrid are in a time of change – key members of the team, like Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, have left or are getting older. Also, new faces in Jude Bellingham make it harder to predict how Madrid will play come the next season. Whether Eduardo Camavinga stays at left-back, Guler could play on the right wing, and Valverde and Bellingham could play in the middle of the field.
Arda Guler can slot in at that right flank or as a number 10 in a diamond. Dani Carvajal still lacks that tenacity to help Guler offensively – so i’d rather prefer him to throw him a bit centrally. It could just work out, especially in those high-stake high-PnP games.
Guler’s best skill, and the thing he could bring to Real Madrid, is his ability to take charge of games and break down defences with his calm and patient playmaking. If Modric and Kroos leave, none of Real Madrid’s other center midfielders have the same level of control or the patience to break down defences.
But if Luka Modric and Toni Kroos stay and the club focuses on integrating new player Jude Bellingham, Guler’s growth may stop, and he could end up on the edge of the team. Something that makes me worried.
Here is to hoping he goes far and takes us far…