Arda Turan is back in the headlines. But this time not for any controversial antics. The former Barcelona midfielder has been appointed the new manager of second-division Turkish side Eyüpspor.
Turan retired from football at the age of 35, with his last professional spell coming at Galatasaray, the club where he initially made his name before moving to Spain. At Atletico Madrid, he won La Liga and reached the Champions League final, which led to a switch to Barcelona. Things didn’t work out as hoped at Camp Nou, and he returned to Turkey to play for İstanbul Başakşehir on loan.
The Turkish star won as many La Liga titles as Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, but in the football world, he’s remembered more for his controversial antics than his ability, which to be fair was impressive during his peak years.
During Atletico Madrid’s game against Barcelona in 2015, he threw his boot in the direction of a linesman. The failure to control his temper also led to a 16-match ban during his playing days with Başakşehir after he pushed a linesman.
Turan’s well-wishers will hope his spell on the touchline is calmer than his exploits on the pitch. He has agreed to become Eyüpspor’s manager on a one-and-a-half-year contract.
The former Turkey international is the latest high-profile player to become a coach.
In 2015, he was seen as Xavi’s replacement at Barcelona. The club legend departed to Al Sadd in the same summer, the Catalan outfit signed Turan on a five-year deal. At the time, he said: “No one can replace Xavi. I am here to give all that I have but I’m not here to equal Xavi. Xavi is a world football icon and will always be a symbol of Barça.”
Turan certainly didn’t manage to replace Xavi and endured a tough time in the middle of the park for Barcelona. However, he’d hope to emulate the former Barca captain’s managerial career path and return to his ‘dream club’.
He said during his unveiling: “Everyone who knows me, knows that ever since I was a boy I always aspired to play for Barcelona. This is the best club in the world and I am delighted to be here. It’s a dream for me. I had many offers but once I got Barça’s, I put the others to the side.”
Xavi, after retiring in Qatar became Al Sadd’s manager and returned to Camp Nou to succeed another former player turned manager Ronald Koeman in 2021. So far, the Spaniard has impressed with his tactics and squad management. Barcelona have struggled in Europe, but in La Liga, they are cruising to their first title success in four years.
However, it’s too early to talk about Barcelona or any other big job in Europe. Turan’s current focus is on getting the best out of his players at Eyüpspor, especially after a far-from-impressive managerial start. In his first game in charge, his team lost 1-0 to Göztepe and failed to register a single shot on target.
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