Arda Guler, being compared to Argentine legend Lionel Messi is now a right of passage for any young attacking player, especially those with a low centre of gravity and superb dribbling skills, both of which the 18-year-old from Altindag possesses.
So far nobody has lived up to the hype, certainly not the aforementioned Sardar Azmoun, Marko Marin and Ryan Gauld. In all likelihood, no one ever will.
However, there is genuine hope that the ludicrously-talented Guler can become one of those to move beyond the tag and forge his own stellar path – one that has now led him to the league the man he is being compared to spectacularly tore up for much of his unparalleled career.
fouled for a penalty against Besiktas in April – one of many impressive clips that comprise the inevitable YouTube compilations already dedicated to this fledgling talent.
He also possesses the prized ability to pick and play the right pass. See the devastating assist he provided in the 2-0 win over Antalyaspor, evading two opponents before curling a pass from the right precisely with the outside of his boot through two defenders and into the stride of scorer Enner Valencia. Most players don't do that, especially not at 18.
His ability to shift direction and initial turn of pace are electric. He is also versatile enough to operate in numerous attacking roles, although he favours cutting onto his left foot from the right, and is a menace from set-pieces – the means through which he provided his debut assist, from a corner.
Added to that is a willingness to press and, despite his tender age, mix it with the bigger boys.
Finally, he is not scared of improvising or trying the audacious, as demonstrated by his 20-yard lob against the bar that Valencia followed up to finish in a 5-1 win over Kasimpasa in January.
Having made his international debut in a friendly win over Czech Republic on 19 November 2022, he netted his first goal this June, in his fourth appearance.
The goal .was a showcase for just how devastating he can be when allowed even a fraction of time and space from the right, with Wales' defence giving him all he needed to curl a superb 20-yard shot into the far top corner.
While not wishing to further court comparison, it is clear to see why a Barcelona side that missed out on re-signing the OG Messi this summer would have been so keen to recruit a younger player in Guler, with the long-term capability to bring some of the qualities absent in their side since the Argentine left.
The question was always going to be whether Guler saw this summer as the right time to spread his wings and next season as the time to test himself at a higher level?
His playmaker predecessor at Fenerbahce, Ozil – who moved to Real himself as a 21-year-old – has weighed in on the issue, reportedly telling his former team-mate he should stay in Turkey for another season to aid his development. And there is certainly some validity to the stance.
Guler is young, still slight and far from the finished article. La Liga, Bundesliga and Premier League defenders will be uncompromising.
His quest to properly channel his clear enthusiasm and add consistency to his game would possibly be aided by regular football in a familiar, friendly climate away from the media glare focused on Europe's elite clubs.
At Real, though, he may well find kinship among a growing group of lauded peers recruited as what the club hopes will be a new iteration of Galacticos.
With exciting young forwards Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo already at the club, the 14-time European champions have focused especially on refreshing their ageing midfield in recent summers, with Guler the latest puzzle piece.