Who is Arda Guler? Newcastle United linked with teenage star labelled ‘Turkish Messi’
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Newcastle United’s attempts to bolster their squad in preparation for a return to the Champions League has led the Magpies to cast their net far and wide in search of new additions.
Links with the likes of Arsenal defender Kieran Tierney and Leicester City and England attacking midfielder James Maddison have been widely reported across the media. But United’s recruitment team have been hard at work across the globe, with Magpies scouts believed to have taken in a whole host of games across South America and Europe in recent months.
One talent that has been monitored is Fenerbahce’s 18-year-old midfielder Arda Guler, who has shone for the Turkish giants during the first 18 months of his first-team career. Should United opt to make a move, they will face competition from several big-name clubs in the Premier League and beyond - but why is everyone so excited about the youngster?
NewcastleWorld takes a look at what he has achieved and what could happen next for Guler and his potential suitors.
Introduction into life at a senior level
Guler was part of the youth setup at Genclerbirligi before moving to Fenerbahce in 2019. After two years in the Istanbul-based club’s academy, he penned a two-and-a-half year professional contract as excitement over his ability and potential rose.
A senior debut would follow just seven months later when the youngster came off the bench in a 1-0 win against Finnish side HJK in a Europa League play-off tie. Just days later, a league debut and perhaps the first sign of promise followed when Guler set up team-mate Miha Zajc to score the second goal of a 2-0 win against Antalyaspor.
After scoring his first senior goal in a 5-2 win at Alanyaspor in March 2022, the midfielder ended his first season at senior level with an impressive three goals and five assists in just 16 appearances in all competitions.
Big name clubs start to take interest
There should have been little surprise that Guler started to attract admirers after showing his ability at the top level of Turkish football.
With excitement rising, Fenerbahce supporters lauded their young prospect by comparing him to a man many view as the greatest player to have graced the game during a fiercely contested derby clash with Galatasaray in April 2022. Despite Guler only playing for six minutes of a 2-0 win for his side, the youngster was honoured with a banner stating: ‘Arda Guler: The Turkish Messi’.
Interest came from across Europe, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur reportedly leading the chase to bring the midfielder to England. However, there was competition from the biggest clubs on the continent as Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Real Madrid all made their interest known to Fenerbahce.
Further progress and a first international call-up
Despite being the subject of increasingly intense interest, Guler remained with Fenerbahce and has continued to shine during his second season as a senior player. Still only 18-years-old, the youngster has become a key player within their side and has provided six goals and six assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.
His form led to a maiden call-up to the senior Turkey side and Guler would earn a first cap when he replaced Dogukan Sinik in a 2-1 friendly win against the Czech Republic in November 2022. A second cap followed in March as Guler came off the bench to replace Orkun Kokcu as his side suffered a 2-0 home defeat in a Euro 2024 qualifier against Croatia.
Pirlo and Ozil praise
After Guler scored in a 5-2 win against Alanyaspor last season, former Arsenal and Real Madrid star Mesut Ozil said to the youngster: “A super goal and a super assist. Quality. You will be a world star.”
Guler’s former Genclerbirigli coach Erol Tokgozler added: “I don’t think Arda will stay in Turkey too long. I know that there are offers from Arsenal and Bayern Munich. With each passing match, the number of these (interested) teams will increase. [Bids of] 20 to 30 million euros for Arda will be very ordinary.”
Speaking earlier this year, Italy legend Andrea Pirlo said: “Arda Guler is a very talented player. He has the potential to play anywhere in the world. He has quality, he can read the game well, and he has great technique. If he keeps developing his game, there is no limit to his potential.”
So what comes next and could a unique clause come into play?
As it stands, Guler remains a Fenerbahce player. However, a summer departure seems increasingly likely as several clubs - including Newcastle - are reportedly preparing bids to land one of European football’s most promising talents. TeamTalk recently revealed Guler has a somewhat unique clause places into his current contract that means he could be available for just £4.3million if he fails to gain 1,500 minutes of game-time this season. According to TransferMarkt, the midfielder currently stands at 1,457 minutes, but he seems likely to surpass the set amount when his side face Basaksehir in the Turkish Cup Final next weekend. Should he do so, his release clause will increase to £17.3m.