The Turkey midfielder opened the scoring for the Catalans against Sevilla and added a stunning second to continue his fine form after a tough debut campaign at Camp Nou.
Second season, second chance. Arda Turan signed for Barcelona in the summer of last year, but had to wait until January to make his debut because of the club’s transfer ban and his maiden campaign never really got going. This one, however, has had a spectacular start.
Arda was booed by Turkey fans during some poor performances for his nation at Euro 2016 and his future appeared in doubt as Barca sought to raise funds for new signings. However. sporting director Robert Fernandez said: “After a difficult year with all the FIFA trouble, we are hoping for the Arda of Atletico next season. We are convinced he will perform for us.”
That claim raised eyebrows among many, but a superb strike against Celtic in pre-season changed the opinions of some. Just maybe, Turan could be a success for Barca after all.
As the season started away to Sevilla in the Spanish Supercopa first leg last Sunday, there was criticism from some supporters as he struggled to link up effectively with his team-mates early in the game. But the 29-year-old improved as the match wore on and produced a moment of real quality as he chested a Denis Suarez pass into the path of Luis Suarez to set up the opening goal at the Sanchez Pizjuan.
With Andres Iniesta already off injured and Neymar away with Brazil at the Olympic Games in Rio, such skills are extremely useful for Luis Enrique and the coach said afterwards: “Arda can play in the middle or on the wing. He is a player I like in both positions.”
The Barca boss had pushed for the Turk’s signature after Xavi left the club last year and even though some socios were unhappy that a then 28-year-old was being bought for a fee of €34 million plus variables, the Asturian coach was sure he would be a success.
The player is now beginning to repay that faith. After his brilliant assist in the first leg of this Supercopa series, Turan opened the scoring in the second match at Camp Nou on Wednesday night as he latched onto Lionel Messi’s pass and converted with a low shot at the near post.
And after Claudio Bravo – perhaps playing his last match for Barca as he closes in on a move to Manchester City – had saved a penalty late in the first half, Arda gave Barca control of the game once again in the second half as he spotted Sergio Rico off his line and curled a sublime shot into the top corner from outside the box to make it 2-0.
Before that, Sevilla had been threatening, but it was tie over. At 4-0 up on aggregate, the Andalusians’ hopes of a comeback were gone. Arda had played a pivotal part – and the Camp Nou responded by applauding him like never before.
Not long after that, Turan then missed a chance to complete his hat-trick as he lobbed Rico but also cleared the crossbar. No matter. It was still, by far, his best performance in a Barcelona shirt – and it helped to deliver a trophy as Messi made it 3-0 with a header and Barca prevailed 5-0 on aggregate.
On this form, Arda can be the player Barca and Luis Enrique hoped he would be. Assisting his team-mates and also scoring spectacularly, Turan is like another new signing for the Blaugrana this summer and his fine showings in attack may mean the club do not need to bring in a fouth forward before the end of the window after all.
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