Arda Turan, Atleti’s key

“The important thing is what he shows on the field. Arda is one of the best players. He shows heart in every one of our matches,” Diego Simeone once reflected on the Turkish creative midfielder.

Discussion in the latter part of this season has hinted at an Atletico Madrid with a ‘one dimensional’ approach, on a possible over-reliance in tactically providing Radamel Falcao in attack. However, the absence of one man in particular, Arda Turan, the creative mastermind of the Rojiblancos, may have been overlooked. With growing speculation on Falcao’s next move, it looks as though Turan, and not a replacement striker, may hold the key to continued progress for the Vicente Calderon outfit into next season and the duel challenge of League and Champions League football.

His injury problems this term have not only taken their toll on Arda, but also on the team. Atleti’s great start to the season can technically be attributed to the Turk and the impact he had on the field. From helping to set up Atleti’s goal in their opening day draw against Levante to contributing further goals and assists in following games, the 26-year-old’s demonstrated early on that when he is on form, so too are his teammates.

And developing concerns over Atleti’s creative approach to games in the latter half of the season have coincided with Arda’s run-in with injury struggles.

As of late, his future in the capital has come under growing speculation with numerous media outlets reporting interest from many of Europe’s elite including former side Galatasaray and Chelsea. And it’s not hard to see why.

He possesses an understanding of the game which is incomparable, highlighted by his vision and his ability to link up well Falcao and Adrian Lopez, providing Atletico with a creative edge. He also enjoys the flexibility of being able to operate anywhere in the midfield, from the flanks to the middle of the park. All this when combined with his skills with the ball and his great work ethic ultimately make him a complete attacking midfield package.

He is valued by his Coach, who has reportedly identified that next year’s team can be built around him and Thibaut Courtois, and he is expected to make the starting line-up for the Copa del Rey Final, after just a handful of appearances since a six-week injury lay-off.

With Real Madrid looking like a side hit with internal crisis, Friday’s match may well be a prefect opportunity to showcase his talent and Atleti’s potential for growth next season. He alone could hold the key to breaking Los Colchoneros’ derby hoodoo.