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Real Madrid’s History Signing Turkish Talent

Only 2 other players from Turkey have played for Real Madrid.

Turkish wunderkind Arda Guler leaves from Istanbul to Spain’s Madrid Photo by Oguz Yeter/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Arda Guler, the young 18-year-old who has officially been announced as a new Real Madrid player, is not the first Turk to grace the Bernabeu. Two other Turkish players have signed for the club, less than 15 years ago, as well as a certain German with Turkish roots, who went on to become a fan favorite during his three years at the club.

In 2011, Real Madrid acquired the services of Nuri Sahin, a talented midfielder from Borussia Dortmund known for his precise passing and exceptional vision. Hailed as one of Turkey’s most promising players, Sahin arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu with high expectations and a career path as Xabi Alonso’s eventual replacement. Unfortunately, injuries plagued his stint with Los Blancos, limiting his playing time. Despite the challenges, Sahin’s technical abilities and tactical intelligence were evident whenever he took the field, but he only managed 10 appearances.

Another Turkish player who joined Real Madrid was Hamit Altintop in 2011. A versatile right winger renowned for his work rate and powerful shooting. Altintop was effective 1 v 1 and was even deployed as a right back on a few occasions under Jose Mourinho. While injuries also hindered his progress at the club, Altintop showcased his versatility and determination during his limited appearances, leaving a positive impression on fans.

In the realm of Turkish heritage, it is worth mentioning Mesut Ozil, who, though of German nationality, has Turkish roots. Ozil’s mesmerizing playmaking skills and creativity endeared him to fans during his tenure at Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013. The German-Turkish maestro’s style of play reflected the influence of his Turkish heritage, adding an extra flair to his game. Ozil has been a mentor to young Guler during their time at Fenerbache and Guler has admitted that Ozil has always been an idol for him. The two share stylistic similarities in their play and position.

Arda Guler arrives as a teenager to the biggest club in the world, but will be hoping his career path aligns closer to Ozil than it does his aforementioned compatriots in Altintop and Sahin. The sample size of great Turkish talent at the club is very small, thus Guler will be able to write his own story.

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