There appears to be quite the fascination these days to quickly anoint football players as ‘the new’ Ronaldo or Messi.
Remember, it wasn’t that long ago when culers were salivating and fawning over Alen Halilovic ... the ‘Croatian Messi.’
Still only 27 years of age, Halilovic has been without a club since January of this year, the third time in his career that’s happened.
Since his Barca sojourn, he’s turned out for Hamburg, Las Palmas, Standard Liege, AC Milan, Heerenveen, Birmingham, Reading and HNK Rijeka.
It’s important to use him as an example in the context of speaking about Arda Guler because much of the same tropes that were being used for Halilovic are being trotted out again for the 18-year-old Turkish wonderkid.
Don’t get me wrong, Arda Guler is a magnificent young talent, but he still has an awful lot to learn in the game.
With Barca openly interested in his services along with eight or nine other clubs, the deal to bring him to Catalonia won’t necessarily be an easy one, but if the blaugranes are successful, everyone must take a step back and allow his talent to flourish naturally.
At Fenerbahce, they’ve done just that and are reaping the rewards. However, and with the greatest respect, the Turkish league isn’t as strong as La Liga or any other top European league for that matter.
The boy is superb to watch, there’s no doubt about that, but the case of Halilovic is a prescient warning.
Arda Guler is almost exclusively left-footed, and will invariably look to come inside at any opportunity. Think of a young Arjen Robben in that sense.
Though he’s not quite the one-trick pony that Robben became, the youngster does have a tendency to react negatively if the channels were he aims to do his best work are closed off to him - for example because defenders have become wise to his style of play.
There is a clear need for him to show a little more maturity in that regard and that will come - in time.
It would be unfair to expect him to shine after such a steep learning curve in a league where players have a much higher technical ability and can be more physical.
His close control, ability to beat players and decision making are all things which elevate him as a player, and it’s ostensibly true that he does possess all of the tools to go on and become a great player for whichever team ends up getting him to sign on the dotted line.
Given the opportunity to develop and progress at his own pace, it will be interesting to see just how far he can go in the game.
Just don’t call him the Turkish Messi. Please.