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Ones to Watch; 2022-23 | Number 13: Arda Güler

Turkey has produced a long-line of creative players that have reached the highest tier of the European game. Domestic giants Fenerbahçe SK may have another national gem already in it’s senior ranks; 18-year-old Arda Güler.

In a football world filled with countless stars of today, so many of us are curious about who is waiting in the wings. That search for that next wunderkind; a youngster who has the potential to make us stand up and marvel at how they are masters of their craft despite their tender age remains embedded in the minds of millions of fans around the world.

With this in mind, 101 Great Goals continues its weekly series surveying U21 players across the globe during the 2022-23 season. Some of them you will have no doubt heard of, while we hope to bring you a few new names to spark your curiosities every now and then.

Fact File

  • Name: Arda Güler
  • Age: 18
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Place of Birth: Altındağ, Ankara, Turkey
  • International eligibility: Turkey
  • National team caps: 1 (senior national side)
  • Current club: Fenerbahçe SK
  • Current Market Value (per Transfermarkt): €10m
  • Potential suitor(s): Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain

Arda Güler 2022-23 via Wyscout

Background & Overall Assessment

What is now modern-day Turkey has been at the center of the geopolitical climate in Europe – and the world – dating back to the Hittite Empire, which in its day, was a superpower that spanned nearly 500 years from 1650 BC until 1190 BC. For over two thousand years, Turkey has been the crossroads between east and west, and a key territory – or birthplace – for numerous empires the likes of Persia, Macedonia, the Seleucids, Rome, Byzantium, and the Ottomans.

On the footballing stage, however, Turkey is a relative minnow. Having only participated in two World Cup tournaments (1954, 2002), Ay-Yıldızlılar (The-Crescent-Stars) have yet to truly establish themselves on the global front regardless of their memorable run in Korea & Japan when they reached the semi-finals before finishing in 3rd place. But from a talent production standpoint, the nation certainly has developed a number of highly-gifted players that have reached the top of the European footballing summit.

The likes of Hakan Şükür, Burak Yılmaz, Tuncay Şanlı, Nihat Kahveci, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Arda Turan, Emre Belözoğlu, and the brothers Altintop have all played for massive clubs on the continent. As the nation continues to produce talented players from within its borders, one that has already drawn comparisons to some of the giants of football despite his age is Fenerbaçhe academy graduate Arda Güler.

Already drawing interest from some of Europe’s top clubs dating back to last season, with Premier League trio Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester City joined by Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain as continental big-boys begin to join the queue, Güler has so far been compared to Mesut Özil, Lionel Messi, and former Real Madrid fan-favorite Guti.

At the same time, Güler’s development at youth level was already noted by the national team program, and in the same year as his breakthrough at Fener, Güler was brought into Turkey’s U17 fold in 2021.

The attacking midfielder is one of the most technically gifted midfielders to emerge in Turkey for years and is already a star name at one of the biggest clubs in the Süper Lig. He cites Bruno Fernandes, Kevin De Bruyne and Mesut Özil as his influences and the latter last year described Arda as the “the future No 10”. Well he was proved right as Guler replaced Özil as Fenerbahce’s No 10 this season. Has has five goals and five assists in 22 appearances for the Fenerbahce first team at the time of writing and looks set to be a regular in Jorge Jesus’s side this season. Guler has been scouted by most major clubs in Europe and it would not be a surprise if he gets a high profile move in the near future.

Turkish football expert Emre Sarigul via The Guardian’s NextGen2022 list

By now he was already viewed as a bright star in Turkey’s future, but his performances last season began to set him apart from his contemporaries, with praise from clubmate Mesut Özil – who billed him as someone with the potential to become a “world star” – thrusting him into the wider footballing eye outside of the nation’s borders.

Come March of last season, Güler set a new record while becoming the youngest goalscorer in Turkish Süper Lig history, three weeks after his 17th birthday. Two months later, after earning more minutes, he had already garnered six direct goal contributions in just 255 senior minutes of action, which prompted Fener to offer him a three-year contract and keep him on the books through the 2024-25 season that also includes a €30m (£25m) release clause.

Arda Güler - total actions via Dynamo Zyiv (via Wyscout)

Boasting sublime technical quality and a fantastic dribbler, with creativity and vision to match, Güler also has a knack for scoring from range or just inside the area due to his understanding of attacking space ahead of him as a late arrival in high-chance zones. Fener’s 2-0 win over Dynamo Kyiv in the Europa League group stage saw Güler complete 41 of 66 (62%) total actions in all phases of play, score from 20 yards out, and also turn provider from a corner. He also completed 80% of his long passes while also recovering possession three times in Dynamo’s half and adding a further three interceptions to his match data.

It was an all-action performance from the then 17-year-old that showcased the full range of his abilities on both sides of the ball in a truly modern midfielder profile.

As Fener’s number ten and already boasting considerable influence on the team, the now 18-year-old starlet, who recently received his first full cap for his country in a 2-1 win against the Czech Republic during November’s pre-World Cup friendlies, it is only a matter of time before he joins his many predecessors at a top five league on the continent.

His former coach at Gençlerbirliği, Erol Tokgözler, expects it to be sooner rather than later. When speaking to CNN Turk, Tokgözler noted considerable interest in Güler that will be too big to turn down for both the club and the player. “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 teams will increase. [Bids of] €20-30m for Arda will become ordinary.”

Should Arda Güler continue to impress for the remainder of the current 2022-23 campaign both at home and abroad, expect the 18-year-old Turkish delight to be on the books of one of the continent’s biggest institutions by next season.

Read below for more Ones to Watch

Ones to Watch; 2022-23 | Number 12: Jardell Kanga
Ones to Watch; 2022-23 | Number 11: Antonio Nusa
Ones to Watch; 2022-23 | Number 10: Milos Kerkez


Picture of Andrew Thompson

Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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