A club famed for its Galactico signings and endless superstardom, Real Madrid have recently found themselves becoming the unsung heroes of developing some of football’s best youth prospects.
In the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era, the club has had to find innovative ways to replace the irreplaceable. And with Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema also out of the picture shortly after Ronaldo, that looked a daunting task – even for Los Blancos.
Fast forward a few years and Carlo Ancelotti is back in the hot seat after a spell at Everton, Real have turned their nose up at signing the best players in the world in mega-money transfers and Big Brother is back on UK television.
World’s gone mad, hasn’t it?
While we don’t doubt for a second that the Galactico spending will inevitably return soon and one of Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe will eventually done that historic white shirt, for the moment Real have a new identity of poaching the best youngsters in world football and ensuring they thrive.
They’ve done it with Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo to solve their Ronaldo/Bale Dilemma, they’ve turned Jude Bellingham into an immortal being capable of playing every position on the pitch at a 10/10 standard, and they’ve now found the latest piece of the puzzle as they seamlessly regenerate their midfield.
Arda Guler was signed last summer alongside Bellingham, but naturally to less noise with the Englishman dominating the headlines.
That – and an injury upon arrival – made for a quiet start to life in Madrid for the 18-year-old sensation, hailed as the crown jewel of Turkish football.
It’s exceptionally rare that a player with such promise slips under the radar when signing for Los Blancos, but alas, Guler did and it’s paid dividends now he’s back fit.
He’s just made his debut and suddenly it’s become very clear that they’ve got another world-beater on their hands. Don Carlo has done it again.
Plying his trade as an attacking midfielder, Guler finally made his first official appearance for Real as they breezed past Arandina in the Copa del Rey, occupying the ‘Bellingham role’ in Ancelotti’s rotated XI.
While that debut didn’t come with fireworks in the form of a clutch goal and an already iconic celebration, Guler absolutely oozed class and composure, pinging the ball around and strolling around the field like a Real veteran.
Arda Guler debute for Real Madrid
No Arda Guler fan will go pass without liking this tweet.pic.twitter.com/A9uv8TbhjH
— Big2🤍 (@TheAsianLads) January 7, 2024
It shouldn’t be legal to be this composed when making your debut for perhaps the biggest club in the world, after months out with injury for the hype to build up.
He may as well have had a cigar in his mouth and a pint of Efes in his hand the way he was strolling around the park dictating the play with line-splitting passes and intelligent switches.
A performance that was wise beyond his years and showed exactly why Real and Ancelotti were desperate to snap up Guler from Fenerbahce.
If his beautifully-struck free-kick didn’t strike the post, we’d have been looking at an all-timer debut. It even earned the Ancelotti nod of approval.
Ancelotti's reaction after Arda Guler's free kick 👏 pic.twitter.com/kCpxn5V5CZ
— Ido CR7 🇵🇹 (@IdoCr7) January 6, 2024
No break from the chewing gum though. Obviously. Never change, Mr. Ancelotti.
The scariest part is that this is only day one. The very beginning. Just wait until he’s back up to full speed and integrated into the XI more regularly alongside Bellingham, Luka Modric and the rest.
The future is exceptionally bright for Guler, who has the tools to become indispensable next to Bellingham at Real.
By Mitch Wilks