Decoding Arda Güler: xvalue’s Advanced Player Report

The final group stage matches of EURO 2024 are to be disputed in these days. Among these, Group E sees all teams tied with 3 points, Italy want to secure 2nd place in their group as does Turkey who lost to Portugal after winning against Georgia on the first matchday. Turkish fans have many reasons to be excited for international matches given the numerous talents which are prospering as of late. Their hope is that this team can repeat or even improve the surprising performances of the beginning of the century when Turkey reached third place at the World Cup (in 2002 when Hakan Şükür scored the fastest goal in a World Cup match) and at the Euros (2008). After a disappointing experience at EURO 2020, and with a captain such as Burak Yilmaz now retired, new stars such as Çalhanoglu have taken his place. Alongside him, new stars are bursting on the scene such as Yildiz, Kiliçsoy and the most exciting prospect in Turkish football: Arda Güler. Uncover every detail regarding the stars of EURO 2024 such as Arda Güler through our advanced player and team reports. 


Arda Güler: From Ankara to Madrid

Arda Güler has been in the eyes of Turkish fans ever since his debut in the SuperLig. However, as talks started to build up, he quickly became an exciting prospect also abroad with clubs like AC Milan scouting him regularly. However, it was Real Madrid who eventually completed the transfer and brought the young star to Madrid. His move to Madrid went somewhat under the radar, also considering he hadn’t played for the first team at the start of the season.  He eventually made his debut with Los Blancos in .

His move to Real Madrid wasn’t well seen by many as many probably thought that his talent might have been wasted at Real Madrid, where playing time was bound to be very limited. While this has been true (also due difficulties settling in and some injuries), it has also been compensated by eye-catching performances. On top of that, Güler is making very significant experience at one of the world’s top clubs.

Position and function on the pitch

Here above we can see the evolution of the young Turkish’s position on the pitch. We can notice that in this season with Real Madrid he is often occupying more central areas of the pitch than his last season with Fenerbahçe. His assigned cluster is that of a Chance Creator but with hybridization also towards One-to-one explorers (which was his main cluster when playing for the Turkish club). These two clusters are usually made up of skillful players, capable of beating their man and creating chances for teammates. One-to-one explorers are the cluster who focuses the most on dribbling, while Chance creators are players capable of creating chances for their team but also capable of scoring from long and short range. Here below is a representation of our clustering model featuring Arda Güler.

Positioning and Shooting

Arda Güler’s shooting ability so far has been nothing short of exceptional. His ability to increase his chances of scoring are measured by Shooting Goals Added (SGA in short), which considers how much the xGOT (Expected Goals on Target) value has increased in comparison to the initially associated xG value. His percentile ranking suggests he has been among the best shooters as well as his staggering outperformance of Expected Goals (he converts his chances at a rate of over 300%). Güler still has considerable margins for improvement: while his shooting technique is already great he can still improve in getting more chances by positioning himself better and with higher frequency in dangerous areas. His average npxG P90 values have considerably risen since joining Madrid (while Madrid are probably a superior team, it’s also true that Fenerbahçe have been dominant in the Süper Lig) going from an average of 0.23 P90 to the current 0.47 P90. It will not be easy to sustain also this amount of chances (values this high are usually associated with a forward), however if he continues to play at the Bernabéu this might be possible.

Shotmaps

Shotmaps allow to compact all shots taken in a season by a player and evaluate his finishing skills quickly and intuitively. In this case, we can see the extremely high finishing efficiency that Arda Guler has sustained.

Thanks to this, we can quickly see where Güler takes his shots most frequently. In his case they mostly come from the middle of the box and just outside the right side of the box. The amount of shots taken from outside the box surely lowers the average xG/shot value. However, given his shooting ability, the amount of shots he takes from those locations is justified (following his wonder goal against Georgia we think also Montella agrees). It will be almost impossible to sustain such finishing efficiency, however, Arda has proven to be a reliable finisher, so we think that he will continue to outperform xG, just not at this rate.

Chance Creation

At Real Madrid, Güler is definitely less involved than before in chance creation. As such, his creative output has considerably decreased since joining Los Blancos. This is due to a shift in his focus from creating opportunities to finishing them. In this sense, his numbers at Fenerbahçe prove this since his xA values were bigger than his xG, unlike in the current season where the tables have turned. This is made very clear by the big volatility in his Chance Creation index featured below. Despite numerous top talents at Real Madrid, he has already had the chance to regularly take set pieces as we can see that his spxA rank higher than his values in open-play.

Like most of Real Madrid (we discussed this in the newsletter on the Champions League final) he attempts and completes a considerable amount of cutbacks. Instead, his crossing attempts are very low for his cluster. Also in Wide Creation we can see a difference between his time in Turkey and in Spain, with the last season with Fenerbahçe being, once again, the best one in terms of creative output.

Dribbling

Great technique, agility, quick thinking: Güler possesses many key characteristics for succeeding in dribbling. This is true as he does attempt a significant amount (4.83 P90) in 2023/2024 which he completes at a strong rate of 55%. In Turkey, his involvement was considerably higher with 7.47 attempts P90 in his last season in Istanbul. So, even if his index slightly dropped since leaving Fenerbahçe it still is very high. This means that the youngster is not only a very active dribbler but he is also efficient. In particular, he likes to start out wide from the right to cut inside on his strong foot.

Ball progression

His involvement in build-up and ball progression at Real Madrid is still limited considering his potential. His technique and vision have been already proven as well as his accuracy (proven below as well).

He does progress the ball through passing, but prefers to actually carry the ball (as can be seen below). His skillset suggests that he could be more involved, however at Real Madrid, this role is often left to midfielders (such as the retiring Toni Kroos). His focus in the current season has been more focused on finishing thus justifying less involvement in ball progression (as can be seen by his xT values). When combining with his teammates he often serves their runs as proven by the far greater amount of one-twos closed in comparison to those opened.

Defending

Another reason for which probably he hasn’t been experimented in a deeper role is that he is still lacking the defensive attitude and output needed to cover such positions. Not only is he already quite lean, but he hasn’t finished his physical development (he is still a teenager) yet. Were he ever to transition to such a role he definitely would need to train a lot to condition himself for the role. 

However, defending is a task which can be done in several ways. If he has struggled in “traditional defensive actions”, he has looked more adept at pressing. With a relatively higher number of counterpressures P90. As also the graph below shows he has had success in tackling in the final third compared to other players of his cluster.

Final remarks and outlook on EURO 2024

Arda Güler has definitely set up very high expectations for himself, first in Istanbul, now in Madrid. His elegant ball carrying, shooting ability and delicate left foot have mainly brought comparisons to two very notable players: Lionel Messi and Mesut Özil. But unlike many players who are dubbed as “the new Messi”, he is actually not that bad of a shout. Having said that, Lionel Messi has been the best player in our database since the 2017/18 season (by a comfortable margin), so reaching his level is highly unlikely if not impossible, however, his style and abilities follow that path. He resembles a player of great skill which in Italy is often referred to as a Fantasista: Dybala, Maradona, Puskas, Ilicic and Hagi are all left footed players who fit this mould.

Comparisons have been made also with Mesut Özil who was a very “pure” advanced playmaker, however, unlike Güler, Özil chose to represent Germany, where he shined at the 2010 World Cup. Arda Güler scored one of the best goals of the tournament against Georgia and was given some rest (also due to a slight knock) against Portugal eventually coming off the bench. With also Yildiz, Yilmaz, Akturkoglu and others competing for a spot, competition is tight. However, Montella knows very well of the abilities of his talents and might adjust his starting lineup based upon his opponent. As such, Güler might suffer defensively against the best teams, but he has the flair and the skill to create chances out of nothing or score from long range. With results being very unpredictable so far, the difference between victory and defeat grows thinner and having a talent such as Arda Güler might prove to make all the difference.

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Warm regards,

The Soccerment Team


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