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Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

Signing a midfielder who much of the football world feel falls into that much-vaunted category of 'world class' status would normally bring universal approval among supporters of the star’s new club.

The €34-million euro signing of Arda Turan from Atletico Madrid though seems to have Barcelona fans slightly divided. On the one hand the majority of supporters believe they have acquired a fine technical midfield player to further bolster their midfield options especially now club icon Xavi has moved on. Others, while appreciating the talents of the Turk seem to be wondering what role Turan will play at the Camp Nou once he is eligible to make his debut in January.


One of the main questions being raised among these fans seems to be what position Turan, who has signed on a five-year deal at the club, will occupy. Turan is undoubtedly a midfielder suited to a more attacking role and has recently expressed his resentment at having to do so much running and defensive work under previous coach Diego Simeone. Turan has done everything asked of him over the past few seasons though and his contributions for the Madrid side were a major factor in Atletico winning the title in 2014.

The 28-year-old undoubtedly has a fight on his hands to break into a Barca side that conquered all before them last season. There aren't too many places up for grabs in the starting eleven. Sergio Busquets will not find his place threatened as he is the defensive lynchpin and an integral part of the side. Even if Busquets were to be injured or suspended head coach Luis Enrique would likely move Javier Mascherano forward from centre-back as cover for the Spanish international.

The chances of the devastatingly prolific front three of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez being broken up are virtually nil. The astonishing success and cohesion of the South American trio means that Enrique is highly unlikely to change the 4-3-3 formation which secured the historic treble for Barca last term.

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

So realistically that leaves just two positions for Turan contend for - those of La Masia graduate Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic. The signing of the Croatian international last season was a proved to be a resounding success and the Croatian provides decisive passing, a goal threat from range, and a work rate and discipline that both Barca fans and Enrique are very appreciative of. The former Sevilla skipper's role doesn't appear to be up immediately at threat.

So that just leaves the position of club legend Iniesta. Turan and the Spanish international share several similar playing characteristics. Both are superb technicians with the ball at their feet whilst using their outstanding skill to glide past players and both are able to thread balls through the tightest of spaces.

One area where both are also similar is in terms of goalscoring - or rather their relative lack of goalscoring. For all their attacking guile, neither is prolific in front of goal with Turan scoring twelve over the last two seasons and Iniesta just six. 


Any knowledgeable football fan will know however that the style of play produced by the pair is more than just about goals. Besides when you have Messi, Suarez and Neymar ahead of you, a requirement to contribute in that area isn't quite so urgent.

Whether Enrique signed Turan as an eventual replacement or as a backup for Iniesta is open to interpretation. Iniesta is now 31 and performed far from his best for large parts of last season but was seemingly back to his brilliant best towards the end of a momentous campaign for the club.

The other big question mark hanging over the signing has been the timing of the deal. With the Barcelona transfer embargo not lifted until January, it means the Turkey captain will not be able to play until halfway through the season.

Having your £25 million signing not play for six months may not seem ideal on the face of it. 

Arda Turan can battle Andres Iniesta, Ivan Rakitic for starting berth at Barcelona

However, Turan will enter the season at one of it's most intense periods when Barca should be fighting on all fronts trophy wise. Injuries, fatigue and loss of form will likely start to affect the squad eventually, and a fit and eager Turan may be just what the team needs if they are struggling in any of these departments.

Turan may well go on to replace Iniesta or Rakitic as first choice in the future but first he will have to prove that he fit into the unique style Barca deploy in order to be a success at the Camp Nou. Until then it's not exactly a bad trio to have to choose from for Enrique.

All in all the positives of Turan's arrival should far outweigh the negatives.

Published by Aaron Attwood, columnist at Barcablog. Follow him on Twitter @ajattwood

Now, it's your turn:


Can Arda Turan become a regular starter ahead of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic? Would you sell or loan Rafinha and Sergi Roberto once Arda Turan is available for selection?

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