‘The ball is in love with him’: teenage Arda Guler ready to star for Turkey

Real Madrid prodigy endured a tricky first season but might be coming into free-scoring form at the perfect time

“I’ve smoked a cigar, I’ve sung a song, I’ve danced with Eduardo; now I want to introduce you to a very interesting kid.” Carlo Ancelotti looked across at the thousands of celebrating Real Madrid fans spread out in front of him and at the 19-year-old standing nervously behind him, reluctantly thrust to the front by giggling teammates. “He’s very shy,” the coach told them. And then he handed the mic to Arda Guler, who said thanks, something about being a family, and hurriedly handed it back.

The normal thing here would be to say that, surely, Arda Guler needs no introduction. Identified as one of the emerging talents in Europe, he had joined Real Madrid, the world’s biggest club, for €20m plus €10m in incentives, one of which had just been met with a Champions League title. By the time he stood before those supporters in the centre of Madrid, Guler had been at the club and in the country for a year. But actually he did need an introduction, which was precisely why Ancelotti called him forward. This was a gesture of complicity, an expression of care, confidence, integration, an investment in all of their futures.

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