5 Things You Need to Know About Arsenal and Liverpool Loan Target Nuri Sahin
Possessor of a keen eye for goal, as well as an ability to thread passes, Sahin quickly became one of the finer talents in the Bundesliga—an upward trend that was verified when he was named Player of the Season in 2010-11 at the tender age of 22.
His play, which had rocketed Dortmund to the league title that season, caught the eye of Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, who swooped for the Turkish midfielder in the summer of 2010. Sahin signed for €10 million and is currently beginning his second season of a six-year deal.
The first season was a trying one, as Sahin quickly saw his dream move disintegrate—first through injury and then through a dearth of playing time.
He's now looking to use a year-long loan move to restart his career, with an eye firmly fixed toward returning to Madrid as a more attractive option for Mourinho next season.
A Precocious Talent
Sahin has developed a habit for playing beyond his years, particularly in the biggest competitions.
Despite being a year younger than most of the players at the 2005 UEFA U-17 Championships, the Turkish No. 10 more than held his own.
So sublime was his play that UEFA would name him the Golden Player for the competition, which Turkey ended up winning after brushing past the Netherlands 2-0 in the final.
At the ensuing FIFA World Championships for the same age division, Sahin picked up Bronze Ball and Silver Shoe awards, earned for his exploits—which included four goals.
Although Mexico would end up winning the Championships (Turkey finished fourth after losing to Brazil in the semifinals), a Sahin-inspired performance in the group stages helped Turkey past Mexico 2-1.
That sterling form would follow him to Germany, where in August 2010 the ambitious Sahin, at just 16 years and 335 days, would become the youngest player ever to appear in a Bundesliga match.
He followed that exploit with two more: goals against Germany for Turkey, and Nurnberg for Dortmund would earn him the distinction of youngest-ever scorer for his country and in Bundesliga history.
Sahin rocketed up the ranks at Borussia Dortmund. After a loan move to Feyenoord in the 2007-08 season, he returned with a vengeance, seen most fittingly in his Player of the Year distinction.
Versatile in Midfield
Arsenal's three-man central midfield lacks a true defensive-minded player this season, exemplified by the selection of Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby over the weekend.
The latter two can certainly provide defensive cover, as Arteta in particular did with aplomb against Sunderland, but the fact that the three-man unit is such a morphing unit could work in Sahin's favor.
Adept either when getting forward or playing from a more withdrawn standpoint, Sahin would get an opportunity to do both in the revolving door Arsenal employ. Midfielders frequently cycle through different positions, whether through Diaby and Arteta getting forward in the attack or Cazorla dropping deep to involve himself in the play.
Liverpool have already acquired a midfielder in Joe Allen. But with the likes of Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson reduced to peripheral figures to start the season, Sahin might just fancy his chances at forcing his way into the team selection alongside the likes of Allen, Steven Gerrard and Lucas Leiva.
Experience at the European Level
The Telegraph (link previously embedded) reported that Sahin was reportedly favoring a move to Arsenal because of the chance to play Champions League football this season.
Mikel Arteta showed during last summer's transfer window just how powerful that allure can be, with the Everton midfielder picking Arsenal in large part because the Gunners had successfully earned qualification to the group stages. Sahin might follow in the Spaniard's footsteps this season.
Sahin's experience in Europe—he was terrific in Real Madrid's Round of 16 tie against APOEL a season ago—would benefit either Arsenal or Liverpool.
The Reds are pursuing a Europa League berth and would welcome the presence of Sahin.
A 'Dream' to Play in England
Sahin is reported to be enticed by the allure of playing for Arsenal this season, where he could work under Arsene Wenger and enjoy Champions League football.
"My great dream is to play in England," Sahin had told UEFA back in 2005. "It is not important which club, but I would love to play in England with the great stadiums there."
He has Mourinho's blessing. The Portuguese manager said in a press conference leading up to the SuperCup fixture with Barcelona that Sahin could benefit from a year spent in the Premier League, where he could "pick up certain characteristics which he does not have."
It's difficult to say exactly what went wrong for Sahin at Madrid last season—he did arrive at the club injured and didn't make his debut until November in a La Liga rout of Osasuna.
Sahin would end up making just 10 appearances in all competitions for the Madridistas, which perhaps poured the most fuel upon his desire for a loan deal this season.
Mourinho was playing him as a side-back during the preseason, which proved to be perhaps the final nail in the coffin.
Although he has no experience with the English game—he's played in Germany (Dortmund), Holland (Feyenoord) and Spain (Madrid)—as Cazorla showed this past weekend, supreme class allows players to adapt quite quickly to new surroundings.
Sahin's versatility and considerable talent—he can strike from distance with either foot and knows how to pick a pass—would be welcome additions to either Arsenal or Liverpool.
A Protracted Saga
Sahin had looked all set to join Arsenal for the season—all set, that is, until news reports surfaced that a snag had developed in negotiations, with the Gunners apparently voicing a desire to sign Sahin permanently.
That precluded the The Mirror's Thursday report that Liverpool had sling-shotted past Arsenal in the race to nab Sahin. Reza Fazeli, the player's agent, was rumored to be in Anfield hashing out a potential deal.
There have been reports each day for the past week sending Sahin up and down England, but Liverpool appear to be in the driver's seat.
At least for the time being.