The Rise of the Turkish Messi: Real Madrid's Latest Sensation
"Messi" has joined Real Madrid! This news has created quite a sensation. However, there is no reason for Barcelona fans to feel upset about it. Argentine superstar Messi did not move to Inter Miami, which is Barcelona's "archrival," but instead joined Real Madrid. Just like the Messi who went to Real Madrid, this Messi is also another Messi. This Messi is called the "Turkish Messi"!
In the past two decades, besides Lionel Messi, we have seen at least half a dozen other "Messis." No, we are not talking about other players with the name Messi. We are referring to those who have associated themselves with the name "Messi" as an adjective. There have been Iranian Messi, German Messi, Scottish Messi, Georgian Messi, and Egyptian Messi—such Messis have emerged regularly.
Among them, only a few have truly embodied the essence of this name. Sardar Azmoun, Marco Marin, and Ryan Gauld, for example, have not been able to escape the pressure of the adjective Messi and have lost their prominence. One of those who has embraced the adjective alongside his name is the "Egyptian Messi," namely Mohamed Salah. Having upheld the meaning of the Messi adjective, Salah established himself as one of the best footballers in the world after 2017.
The trend of the Messi adjective in the football arena has not come to an end; rather, the list continues to grow with new names. Exceptional attacking players, who excel in dribbling, are now being associated with Messi's name. The latest addition to that list is the famous nickname "Turkish Messi." The player who had been a subject of intense competition among European powerhouses. It was not long ago when there were rumors that this rising star, aged 18, could join Arsenal. However, the latest news is that it is not Arsenal but Real Madrid who has acquired the Turkish Messi.
Comparisons with Messi are often a burden to anyone. But not everyone can be compared to Messi! Only a few special individuals are subjected to such comparisons. And Gul is one of them. Otherwise, Real Madrid wouldn't have been so eager to sign him from Fanerbahçe. Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Newcastle, and PSG were also interested in Gul, apart from Real Madrid and Arsenal.
Seeing the increasing interest from rivals, Real Madrid probably hurried to secure him and officially presented him as part of the team. Gul has signed a six-year contract with Real Madrid.
As a fan favorite, Gul has played 32 matches since 2021 to 2023, and he has played four matches for the national team in 2022. It was in these matches that he truly represented his country as a Turkish footballer.
However, it is true that there has been some delay in discussions and controversies due to playing for clubs outside of Europe. Becoming a Fanerbahçe player at the age of just 16 in 2021 created quite a stir. Then in March 2022, he opened his goal account in the Turkish Super League, which made him the club's youngest-ever goal scorer. When he scored his first goal, he was just 17 years old, with 16 days left until his 18th birthday. In the Super League, this young Turkish player has played 1,187 minutes, scoring 7 goals and providing 7 assists.
Becoming a Fanerbahçe player propelled him to such heights in a short period of time that he earned the prestigious number 10 jersey of the club. Alongside the iconic Fanerbahçe jersey, he is associated with the names of Tuncay Şanlı, Robin van Persie, Mesut Özil, and club legend Alex. It was Alex who inspired Gul to embark on his football journey. Despite starting his career under Alex's influence, Gul did not want to get stuck there. He chose Real Madrid.
With his ball control, exceptional skills, dribbling that leaves opponents bewildered, quick decision-making, swiftly taking the ball and flicking it over the defenders' heads, and scoring spectacular goals, Gul has amazed everyone at the age of just 18. If anyone wants, they can watch the small clips on YouTube to get an idea of Gul's magical footwork. His footwork reminds us of the incredible work of the young Messi during his time.
If anyone wants, they can go to YouTube and watch Gul's eye-catching assist in Fanerbahçe's 2-0 victory against Antalyaspor. In the 2nd minute of the match, Gul skillfully bypassed two defenders and advanced forward. Then, from near the center of the field, he cleverly passed the ball to Valencia, leaving three more defenders clueless, before assisting the goal. Many people will consider that moment, created by Gul, as reminiscent of Messi or Luka Modric.
It should be noted that Gul is displaying all these heroics at the age of just 18. Not only can he launch attacks, but when necessary for the team, he can also press and unsettle the opponents' confidence as the "Turkish Messi." In addition, Gul will provide Real Madrid with extra convenience and the ability to change his role or take risks to influence the match mentally. And perhaps it is because of bringing in such a player that Javi is now questioning the fulfillment of Messi's void. However, this is not the end. In the upcoming days, Gul's performances may further amplify Javi's skepticism.