In our debut edition of this ongoing series, we discuss whether Arda Turan’s presence in the line-up detrimentally affects our attack.
Martin Rosenow recently pointed out after our trip to Getafe that Adrián appeared to offer Atleti more speed on the counter given the Asturian’s pace over Arda’s.
A similar situation occurred when we hosted Granada. In that clash, Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodríguez’ quickness led to a more explosive Atlético than we had seen in recent months, best exemplified in the play that resulted in our spectacular second goal Sunday night.
The Turk’s play-making ability, talent and commitment have never been in question, but his recent injury and los Rojiblancos’ thunderous victory over their Andalusian foes have raised questions about his influence now that, as coach Diego Simeone claimed, our opponents are figuring us out.
Here’s what fellow writers Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Menéndez, Robel Solomon, Billy Edwards and Susanne Offermann had to say on the matter:
Ricky: Arda is, in Simeone’s words – and obvious to everyone else who has seen him play these past two seasons – one of the most talented players on the team, and should be playing a central role as one of the main voices on and off the pitch.
The feeling, however, is that he has failed to live up to these expectations. He is potentially brilliant, but his light is a flicker more than a beacon. His team has needed him to lead, to assist and to score. In all three arenas, there are more grey areas than highlights. He has yet to come into his own as a leader (his long-term commitment is stronger felt at certain times than at others). He has struggled with being the key supplier he was considered to be last season, and his scoring average is still weak compared to his better years at Galatasaray, though he has played more matches and minutes.
Do I like Arda Turan? Undoubtedly yes. Is there room for improvement? There seems to be ample enough space for him to grow into a better and more consistent Arda. Will the club be patient enough?
Robel: Arda’s tendency to hold on to the ball for too long is a bigger detriment to our attack than his relative lack of speed. When he receives the ball, his instinct is to create space for himself and that slows us down. I don’t know if he’s reluctant to take risks or lazy because he can fall back on his ability to retain the ball.
Billy: I have to say I’m on the other side of this debate. Arda may have struggled a little lately, but I think that’s mainly because more teams have wised up to Simeone, opting to sit back and try to play us at our own game instead of pushing forward.
There has been more pressure on the Turk to provide a creative spark, which is a department the team as a whole lacks now that Diego is gone.
You only have to look back to the Super Cup final to see how effective Arda can be though, for example, for the third goal, where he led the break forward before laying the ball on a plate for Falcao to complete his hat-trick. He also assisted his second goal in Bucharest in a similar situation, and was vital in the Europa League run where our whole game was based on effective counter-attacking football.
The best players have the potential to mix things up, and although he can frustrate at times, Arda has proven that he is capable of that. It’s been a while since we were able to play with the attacking intent seen against Granada, but I think people need to refresh their memories and remember that he has been heavily involved in plenty of similar performances over the past two seasons.
Susanne: I have to agree with Billy on the point that there has been more pressure on him since we lost Diego. He has had lots of awesome matches – we should not forget about that.
I think its too early to say after two matches without him that he is slowing our attack down, but I don’t think that has anything to do with him being lazy or anything like that. Also, please remember that Cebolla might be faster than him, but most of the time he was better when he was brought in later on. I think it might be an option to start Arda and substitute Cebolla for him some time during the second half, as I always have the impression that Arda gets tired around the 65th minute.
There is only one thing, off the pitch, that worries me about Arda. Is he finally learning Spanish or is he still unable to communicate with his teammates?
Let us know your own thoughts and make sure to join us next time when we discuss Arda’s hair’s identity crisis.