Stylish Nuri Sahin perfect fit for Arsene Wenger as missing piece in Arsenal's jigsaw

German-born Turkey international to seal season-long loan move from Real Madrid today

The final part of Arsenal's summer redesign is due to be completed today with the arrival of Nuri Sahin on loan from Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old midfielder – a Turkey international born in Germany who made his name with home-town club Borussia Dortmund – has struggled to impose himself at the Bernabeu since arriving last summer. But as he makes the opposite journey from Alex Song, exchanging Spain for England, Arsenal will endure no loss of class.

Replacing the Cameroon international with Sahin should mean a more stylish Arsenal side this season. Song was only nominally a defensive midfielder, able to push opponents off the ball with a shrug of his broad shoulders, but not always astute enough to stay close to them. Some of his best contributions at Arsenal, especially in recent seasons, were moments of quick flashes of inspiration.

But Sahin is different. He is an orchestrator, stitching the patterns of play from the heart of the midfield. He is much more authoritative than Song, happier to show for the ball and take responsibility for starting attacks. His passing, over long and short distances, is exceptional. He knows when to retain possession and when to risk it in pursuit of goals. Sahin's approach might be best described as Spanish, in terms of his care of the ball and imagination with it. He is not dissimilar from his new team-mates Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta, and they should be able to strike up the natural combinations which intelligent footballers can find in one another.

Although Sahin plays for Turkey due to his parents' heritage, he is German by birth, and has his football roots in the Bundesliga. Born in Lüdenscheid, he came through the ranks at Dortmund and became the youngest player ever to play in the German top flight before his 17th birthday in 2005.

He soon became a regular in midfield, before announcing himself as one of Europe's finest emerging talents in 2010/11 as Dortmund won their first title in nine years. Sahin contributed six goals and eight assists, and was rewarded with the German player of the season awards by both Kicker magazine and the German players' union. That was good enough to earn a move to Real Madrid on a six-year deal last summer, leaving Dortmund wondering how to replace him.

"Sahin exploded during 2010/11," German football journalist Ben Gladwell told The Independent. "So much so that the main question asked after his sale was how Dortmund would be able to defend their title without their key player, similar to questions now about Shinji Kagawa [who has recently joined Manchester United]."

Unfortunately at Madrid Sahin's route has been blocked by many assured midfielders – not least Mesut Ozil, of similar approach, heritage and age. "His style is like Ozil and, ironically, it is probably him keeping him out at Real," added Gladwell. "He's very technically gifted and plays the same position just behind the strikers or out wide, liking the ball at his feet and with a perpetual engine. He goes to get the ball rather than waiting for it to arrive. His goalscoring record is similar to Ozil's too and he probably should be getting more than he does, but creating goals is his real forte."

Real manager Jose Mourinho admitted recently that competition for places was driving Sahin out. "He's a young boy, he wants to play every match," Mourinho said. "In Real Madrid, the situation is not easy. When you don't start well, it is difficult to do it."

Perhaps it was just not the right time for him to establish himself there. But now at a team short of midfielders, who prioritise possession and are desperate to improve, he might have found his perfect place.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Sahin in numbers

31 Times Sahin has played for Turkey.

4 Appearances Sahin made in La Liga for Real Madrid last season.

£8m His transfer fee from Dortmund to Real Madrid in May 2011.

16 Age when he made his league debut for Borussia Dortmund.

2010-11 Season he was voted the Bundesliga's player of the year.

Barcelona confirm Song deal

Alex Song yesterday completed his £15million move to Barcelona from Arsenal. The 24-year-old Cameroon international signed a five-year contract which included a buy-out clause of €80m (£63m).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Life and Style
Mary Beard received abuse after speaking positively on 'Question Time' about immigrant workers: 'When people say ridiculous, untrue and hurtful things, then I think you should call them out'
tech
Life and Style
Most mail-order brides are thought to come from Thailand, the Philippines and Romania
life
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Voices
Margaret Thatcher, with her director of publicity Sir Gordon Reece, who helped her and the Tory Party to victory in 1979
voicesThe subject is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for former PR man DJ Taylor
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions