Arda Guler’s Euro 2024 stunner poses question: Is Real Madrid’s secret out?

Real Madrid may hope that all the chaos around Turkey vs Georgia, the sleeper hit of Euro 2024, serves as the perfect distraction.

Because when people talk about Tuesday’s game, their minds may first drift to the drenching of fans as storms swirled over the BVB Stadium. They may then ponder the violence between opposing fans, which threatened to overshadow the Group F fixture.

They may even focus on the pressure-cooker atmosphere in the stadium, the flares, drums and whistles, before they consider the action on the pitch. And even then, there were the many near misses, the improbability of Mert Muldur’s volleyed opener, the euphoria of Georges Mikautadze’s equaliser for Georgia, and the finality of Kerem Aktarkoglu’s finish on the counter.

All of which surrounded Real Madrid’s semi-secret, which got out on the 65-minute mark.

It was in that moment that Arda Guler, afforded time and space that would prove fatal to Georgia, arched a shot into the top corner to restore their lead – ultimately setting up victory against the Euros debutants.

Guler is still just 19, and since joining Real Madrid from Fenerbahce last summer, he has made 12 appearances in all competitions, scoring six goals in that time. The midfielder, typically plays centrally and advanced, but he can also play further back and out right, where he was deployed on the right wing by Vincenzo Montella against Georgia.

It was from there that he drifted inside and scored his second international goal, on Tuesday, as he earned his eighth cap. Within the previous seven, his first goal for his nation had already made him Turkey’s youngest goalscorer ever. This one made him the youngest player to score on a Euros debut, breaking Cristiano Ronaldo’s record.

Guler applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch
Guler applauds the fans as he leaves the pitch (Getty Images)

For Madrid, his six goals have come in 10 La Liga appearances, averaging out at one goal every 63 minutes. Elsewhere he received an hour of game time in the Copa del Rey last term, and eight minutes in the Supercopa.

And when he struck decisively in the 65th against Georgia, it was far from his first contribution in the game.

From early on, the teenager was demanding the ball, drifting in behind defenders when his team attacked on the left flank, and putting in deliveries from the right. With a corner from the left, he almost assisted a headed goal by Abdulkerim Bardakci, and shortly after Muldur’s screamer of an opener, Gulder again came close to an assist.

Timing his run well, he received the ball in the Georgia half and strode into the box on the diagonal before sliding a well-weighted ball in for Orkun Kokcu. But when Kokcu tapped the ball across the face of goal, Kenan Yildiz strayed offside to put it away, costing his side their second goal.

Guler would secure it himself in the second half, with a beautiful left-footed shot into the top corner.

Guler’s goal was one of Euro 2024’s most spectacular
Guler’s goal was one of Euro 2024’s most spectacular (Getty Images)
Guler celebrates after scoring for Turkey
Guler celebrates after scoring for Turkey (Getty Images)

Before that, he even came close to winning a penalty when he floated between defenders and was tripped and shoved – just outside the Georgia area, however.

He made way to the sound of overwhelming adulation on 79 minutes, with Brentford coach Thomas Frank offering his own after full time. “Maybe West London [on loan], we’ll see,” the Dane said, discussing where Guler could play next season.

It was a tongue-in-cheek comment from Frank, knowing that many other clubs will have paid attention to Guler’s performance here, and that those clubs may soon be making contact with Madrid.

Could the defending La Liga and Champions League titlists let him go? Guler’s game time last season, in fairness, was not meagre for a player of his age, but he is hardly likely to dislodge Jude Bellingham right now. And he has already been linked with Sevilla, Real Sociedad and Getafe.

A loan spell could serve the teenager well, and clubs love to sign a standout performer after a major international tournament.

Maybe we’ll see him in the Premier League after all.


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