Arda Turan at Barcelona: A Spanish Horror Story

Arda Turan at Barcelona: A Spanish Horror Story

14/03/24 11:36

Arda Turan was an absolute star at Atletico Madrid. There are no doubts about it. He was one of Simeone’s key players. Some would argue that he actually embodied Simeone on the field. He was very intense but also technically correct and incredible on the ball. He was key in Atletico Madrid’s run to the Champions League final in 2014 and their league trophy from the same year. Yet his move to Barcelona was an absolute horror show from start to finish. So let’s have a look at what went wrong.

Josep Maria Bartemou is one of the worst club presidents in the history of Barcelona. In 2024, we know this. But back in 2015, he was fresh off a treble winning campaign and was a favourite for the Barcelona President elections happening later that year. He knew that signing Turan would help strengthen his candidacy.

He was bought for a figure of around €34m. The only problem? Barcelona were under a transfer ban which meant that Turan couldn’t actually play for the club till at least January. This may have been a sign of things to come.

Arda failed to make an impact in the second half of the 2015/16 season. He had not played for 6 months and it showed. He lacked rhythm and there were doubts about whether he could play the Barcelona way. The coach Luis Enrique however kept his confidence in the player and was hopeful that the Turkish player would change his fortunes next season.

For a part of the 2016/17 season, Turan was actually decent. It was obviously going to be difficult to break into a midfield of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets and an attack that featured the legendary Messi-Suarez-Neymar trio. But, Turan did manage to show flashes of his talent. However, off the pitch problems coupled with a few injuries caused Turan to slow down in the second half of the season and he ended the campaign being relegated to the bench once again. Surprisingly, Turan was a Barcelona player on paper till 2020 but he didn’t make a single appearance for the club after his bleak ending to the 2016/17 season.

Luis Enrique departed the club in 2017 and his departure meant that Turan had lost his biggest supporter at the club. His replacement Ernesto Valverde was unimpressed by the Turkish footballer and did not play him for a single minute. Turan spoke about the whole situation a few years later and said, “With Valverde, I felt insignificant..He said he was going to play me but he didn't. He said he was going to give me a chance but he didn't.”

Arda Turan had no choice but to leave Barcelona in the winter of 2018. He played there on loan for almost 2 years before eventually returning to his boyhood club Galatasaray in 2020, officially bringing an end to his disastrous time at Barcelona. Turan did regain some of his level in Turkey but his time there was filled with controversies off the pitch, which included him shooting a gun in a hospital and punching a journalist. He brought an end to his career in 2022 at the age of just 35.

Arda Turan’s story goes down as one of the saddest in modern football. He was immensely talented and he won a large number of trophies. However, his attitude and lack of fitness caused him to flop at Barcelona and unfortunately that is what he’s most remembered for today. Maybe he was just another casualty of Bartemou’s reckless transfer sprees. Whatever the case, his name is surely one that Barca fans will not forget for a long time.

Rayyan Jehangir


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