Arda’s coming of age

Arda Turan’s debut for Barcelona after six months of being unable to play due to the club’s transfer embargo turned out to be quite anticlimactic. Having signed last summer, the Turk was content with solely training and playing in behind-closed-doors games in order to fulfil his dream of playing for La Blaugrana. But it is only now, some six months after making his debut and over a year since he signed for Barca, that he is really starting to make his mark.

The fact that Euro 2016 turned into something of a nightmare for Arda meant starting the new campaign well was crucial. As captain of your national team, being booed by your own fans at a major tournament is not something that you would expect, but the 29-year-old had to deal with jeers upon touching the ball in his nation’s 3-0 defeat to Spain. Turkey’s early elimination turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though, as it allowed the attacking midfielder to start preseason earlier with Barca, which meant that his adaptation to the club could continue.

The second half of last season was a difficult one for Arda as the MSN’s breath-taking form left no room for him in La Blaugrana’s front three, which meant that he occupied a place in midfield. The former Atletico Madrid man, however, is simply not cut out for a role in this area of the pitch with Barca, so he naturally struggled to influence games and showcase the talents that led him to be recognised as one of the best players in La Liga.

Despite a frustrating run of form, Luis Enrique was determined to persist with a player that he personally requested. There were rumours early in the transfer window that the club were open to cashing in on the attacker in order to fund moves for other players, but if this was true then Enrique was having none of it. Coupled with the trust of his Coach and a move to the left wing due to Neymar’s participation at the Rio Olympics, Arda has thrived.

It is all well and good performing in friendlies, which the No 7 did, but he has also started to translate his impressive play into the early competitive matches of the campaign. The European Super Cup games against Sevilla were a perfect example of this. In the first leg, his assist for Luis Suarez almost encapsulated his transition into the side, his perfectly-weighted chest-down for the Uruguayan from a Denis Suarez pass showing how he is now in sync with his teammates.

On top of that, he netted twice in the return leg and also scored in the first La Liga game of the season against Real Betis. It is not only his end product that has improved, though. His general involvement in games has augmented significantly, now that he plays in a more advanced position.

When Barca have a fully-fit squad, Arda will probably not be a starter, but his recent form in the early stages of the season suggest that the double-winners can now count on the immensely-talented player they signed last year to have an impact when he is needed.