When Aleix Vidal and Arda Turan agreed to join Barcelona in the summer, they had to make an unusual sacrifice by effectively writing off half a season of their careers in order to play for the club. The transfer ban implied on the Catalans for signing under-age players meant that the duo would be ineligible to take to the pitch until January 2016 and they could finally make their debuts in the Copa del Rey clash with city rivals Espanyol this week.
The pair came in for some criticism when they opted to leave behind good clubs and guaranteed action in the group stages of Champions League in favour of lurking in the background at the Camp Nou for several months without featuring in any competitive action. Inevitably there were accusations that money was their main motive but the opportunity to join the best team on the planet right now and one of the most prestigious football clubs in the world isn’t something that comes around too often. The option to join Barcelona is very hard to resist for any ambitious footballer and it’s unlikely they’ll be regretting their decision when they step out alongside the likes of Leo Messi, Neymar and Andres Iniesta over the coming weeks.
As it has turned out the timing of the commencement of their availability has worked out quite well for the club. Barcelona have dropped points in 3 of their last 4 games in La Liga and have a busy month coming up where they could play as many as 9 matches in league and cup. Even the best teams need freshening up every now and then and the added competition might just draw a reaction from one or two players who had perhaps become a little complacent in a side that has almost picked itself over the past 18 months.
Both players will feel as though they have a genuine chance of breaking into this side if they play well enough. It will perhaps be easier for €18million signing Aleix Vidal who has played primarily as a right winger in recent years but is equally adept at right back and is regarded as a potential successor to Dani Alves who turns 33 this year.
Like Alves, Vidal arrived from Sevilla and his pace and technical ability mean he should be capable of doing a similar job to the Brazilian, while he could also play in a more advanced role should injuries arise. As a Catalan, he will also add to what has been a dwindling in the number of local-born players in recent years at the club and that should help him win over the Camp Nou crowd.
He will probably be under less of a spotlight than Arda Turan, who has a bigger profile and arrived for a fee that could rise to €40million. Turan has 87 caps for Turkey and has been a key player for Diego Simeone’s successful Atletico Madrid side over the past 4 seasons.
His combative approach should add a bit of steel to the Barcelona midfield but he also has the passing game and vision to fit the team’s philosophy. What is less clear is exactly how he is going to break in to Luis Enrique’s preferred starting eleven. Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets are going to be almost impossible to dislodge in the short-term at least while Ivan Rakitić has been outstanding since joining the club 18 months ago and was a key contributor to their treble winning campaign.
Both Vidal and Turan are likely to make their debuts as Barcelona host city rivals Espanyol in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday and could feature prominently in the competition this month with both legs of the Quarter Finals also to be played by the end of January if Barça get through. It will certainly add a bit to the occasion when the teams head out this week as it has been a long while since the Camp Nou has had a new signing to welcome and the fresh blood could help spur the Catalans out of their mini slump in form.