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Arda Guler: How good is Fenerbahce’s future ‘world star’?

Arda Güler (176cm/5’9”) only turned 17 years of age back in February but the Fenerbahçe talent has already made 16 appearances (12 in the Turkish Super Lig and four in European competition) for the first team, scoring three goals and providing five assists in those 16 appearances, which totalled under 400 minutes of actual playing time. This would be highly impressive for any player but for a 17-year-old academy product to be putting up numbers like this is extremely exciting for Sarı Kanaryalar, their fans and fans of Turkish football as a whole.

Güler’s more experienced teammate — the 33-year-old FIFA World Cup winner with Germany — Mesut Özil, who has played for the likes of La Liga giants Real Madrid and EPL colossuses Arsenal during a trophy-laden career recently declared that he views Güler as a “future world star” and while that’s obviously high praise coming from arguably the biggest football star currently plying his trade in Turkey, it’s also not too difficult to see why Özil has been so impressed by his young teammate.

Indeed, Güler hasn’t played a great number of minutes at first-team level as of yet but the Turkish teenager has been so impressive in his limited game time with Fenerbahçe thus far that I feel this tactical analysis piece and scout report focusing on the exciting talent, how he’s been used within his team’s tactics and where his key strengths and weaknesses lie is very much warranted. I hope that this tactical analysis piece provides good insight into Güler’s game, where he’s already operating at a scarily good level and where he must still make efforts to hone his game if he’s to fulfil the glaringly obvious potential he has. Güler might be one of those teenaged prodigies that comes by every once in a blue moon but we’ve seen such talents come and go in the past in the absence of the necessary continued work to fully hone those skills at the top level, of course. With that said, I hope this scout report clarifies why this is a talent that’s likely drawing attention from all over Europe at present. All statistics and data used in this scout report have come from Wyscout.

Passing in the final third

Güler is primarily a left-footed attacking midfielder, comfortable operating centrally — as a ‘10’ — off the left side of a midfield three or off the right side of a midfield three. In the attacking midfield position, a large portion of the team’s creative burden will be placed on the young midfielder’s shoulders and Güler already carries that burden quite comfortably at senior level, indicating an impressive mentality that is also displayed through his body language when watching him stride around the pitch with the ball at his feet. At 176cm, Güler isn’t tiny but isn’t a mountain of a man either, while in terms of his frame, he appears quite unassuming with plenty of room for development in the physicality department — of course, as you’d expect for a guy at 17. Despite that, when he’s got the ball at his feet, Güler can sometimes appear to be 10 feet tall and with the confidence of someone who’s dominated at this level for years.

This confidence translates into bravery in possession, which has undoubtedly been a major factors in the impressive assists haul Güler has managed in his time as part of Fenerbahçe’s senior squad, as referenced in the introduction to this scout report. Güler has managed to accumulate 0.3xA per 90 in the Super Lig this season, which ranks highly among Super Lig attacking midfielders and wingers, while he’s also played a fairly high number of ‘smart passes’ — defined by Wyscout as ‘a creative and penetrative pass that attempts to break the opposition’s defensive lines to gain a significant advantage in attack’ — (1.05 per 90) and ‘key passes’ — defined by Wyscout as ‘a pass that immediately creates a clear goalscoring opportunity for a teammate’ — (1.31 per 90, the third-most of any attacking midfielder or winger in the Super Lig for 2021/22).

These statistics indicate Güler’s creative streak, resulting from impressive technical quality, confidence in his own ability and bravery on the part of the 17-year-old talent. The first section of our analysis will focus on the young midfielder’s contribution to his side in the chance creation phase.

Figure 1

Starting with figure 1, here we see Güler charging toward the opposition’s box in a central position while his teammate carries the ball forward on the left wing. With this teammate isolated versus an opposition full-back, Güler begins moving from the centre out towards this player to give him a close passing option behind the opposition full-back. Before moving into the half-space, which is where Güler eventually ends up as we’ll see when we move on into figure 2, he scans a few times at just the right moments. Impressive levels of football intelligence are very clear when watching Güler with little actions like scanning at just the right times — in between his teammates’ touches on the ball, as the ball is in motion after just leaving the teammate’s foot, moments when the ball is not likely to suddenly change direction and when he can afford to take his eye away for a moment. We see an example of that with Güler scanning over his left shoulder just after his teammate took a touch in figure 1.

Figure 2

We see another example of Güler’s scanning in figure 2, which rejoins this passage of play slightly later, with Güler now slightly wider from centre and his teammate carrying the ball out wide having made a little bit of ground more towards the centre too. Thanks to his diligent and effective scanning, Güler improves his awareness of the positioning of his teammates, helping him to 1. make a faster decision on his next move once the ball is played into his feet from the ball carrier and 2. make himself aware of the opponents’ positioning, to know if there’s any incoming pressure or if he’s good to turn on receiving the ball to speed up his play and get the ball moving further forward into an even more dangerous position as the pass is played.

When Güler receives here, he does well to take the ball on the half-turn, face the goal, get his head up once more to be sure of his teammate’s movement inside the box and ultimately send an accurate, threatening, curved ball towards the back post, meeting his teammate’s head and setting up an excellent close-range goalscoring opportunity.

Güler loves to create from the half-spaces, particularly this left half-space from where he’s excellent at sending out-swinging crosses into the box for his teammates to attack. The playmaker likes to try and find space in these positions, as we saw in this example, which are his favourite to create from.

Figure 3

Figure 3 shows another example of Güler creating from the left half-space to further illustrate this tendency of his. On this occasion, the midfielder has just carried the ball forward a little bit before ending up in plenty of space here just outside the penalty box in the left half-space. From here, the midfielder got his head up, spotted a teammate attacking space at the far post and sent another dangerous and accurate out-swinging ball into his path, setting up another high-value goalscoring opportunity from a dangerous position. Güler gets plenty of pace on these types of balls when he sends them into the box, adding to his threat from these positions as it lowers the amount of power necessary for his teammate to put on the ball to successfully direct it towards goal. This, combined with the midfielder’s great vision, scanning and movement to find space in these positions with regularity all make him a significant threat.

Passing in deeper areas

Güler doesn’t just come alive in the final third, though, we also often see him pick up the ball deeper, during an earlier stage of possession. The player is just as comfortable operating in deeper areas, which we’ll explore in our second section of analysis.

Figure 4

In figure 4, we see the 17-year-old receiving the ball in midfield during the ball progression phase. Just after the ball leaves his teammate’s foot, we see that he took the opportunity to quickly check over his left shoulder to ensure no pressure was incoming and he would be alright to take the ball on the half-turn, as well as check for his teammates’ positioning and movement. Again, he does this to speed up his team’s attacking play and put the opposition on the back foot. Just before this image, we saw the midfielder actively drop from a more advanced position into the deeper position we see him occupying in figure 4, as more space was available here and he deemed this position more helpful to his team at this moment to give the ball carrier a passing option.

Figure 5

As play moves on into figure 5, we see that the playmaker managed to receive, turn and send the ball forward between the opposition defenders and into the path of his teammate making a charging run forward on the right-wing. Thanks to his intelligent movement and scanning, Güler was able to turn and play the ball forward quite quickly in this example, sending the through ball before he came under too much pressure after receiving — this is common to see from the teenage talent.

However, Güler can improve on his through ball accuracy to an extent and ensure that when he plays passes like this in crucial moments to potentially break the opposition down, they reach the intended target and don’t lead to his team’s attack falling at the last hurdle, which has happened at times and will inevitably happen to any playmaker. It doesn’t happen a crazily high amount for Güler or anything — but he can improve on this ability and work on keeping the ball away from defenders while sliding it into his teammates’ path.

Figure 6

Güler isn’t just adept at chance creation and splitting open opposition defences — though that is a very important element of his game — he’s also a valuable asset for spreading the ball around the pitch and really helping his side to control the game, moving around and disrupting the opposition’s defensive shape, ultimately with the end goal of creating gaps in the defensive structure that his side can then exploit.

Figure 6 shows another example of Güler dropping deeper than his base position would typically suggest offering his teammate on the ball a passing option — this time, with Güler operating inside his own half of the pitch. In this image, we see the midfielder scanning over his left shoulder after his teammate’s heavy touch, intelligently taking the gift of an extra second to check for movement and positioning ahead of him as well as potential incoming pressure. We see Güler do this so much that it’s very much a natural part of his game. This kind of spatial awareness immediately makes him a more valuable asset than if this kind of action were particularly unnatural for him, as it’s for sure a necessary part of his game.

Figure 7

Moving on into figure 7, after the pass was played, the midfielder again took the opportunity to scan, this time checking his right shoulder. Again, the timing of this scan was perfect as it took place after the ball had left his teammate’s boot and was moving in a straight, predictable line towards him.

After seeing that no major pressure was incoming, Güler took the ball on the half-turn and carried it forward into a slightly more advanced and more central position, which we see as we move on into figure 8.

Figure 8

After progressing into this more advanced and central position while driving forward with the ball, Güler spotted the forward run from his teammate positioned on the left wing and picked out his run with a well-timed and well-weighted through ball. This pass was made easier from this position that the player progressed into quickly thanks to the aforementioned scanning that helped his decision-making and confidence after receiving the ball deep. From here, after the ball arrived on the left wing, Fenerbahçe were able to drive into the final third from where setting up a high-quality goalscoring chance is much more achievable, highlighting the value of Güler’s involvement in this passage of play as a progressor.

Apart from ball progression and chance creation, Güler is an excellent asset for ball retention and doesn’t constantly force the issue if the forward or creative passing options aren’t that enticing. This has led to his highly impressive 90.81% pass accuracy — the best pass accuracy rate among wingers and attacking midfielders in the Turkish Super Lig — despite playing so many defence-splitting creative passes, as mentioned earlier. Güler can still improve at knowing when to slow things down and when to keep the pace high, which is a very valuable skill for a creative midfielder, however, he’s already showing that he knows it’s not always paramount to rush things and force the issue, which is a big positive for him and his team.

To touch on a couple of negatives concerning Güler’s passing game — he can improve on his pass selection in deeper areas as he tends to put teammates under unnecessary pressure with his pass selection at times. This is an element of decision-making that will improve over time as the player gets more experience but it’s certainly something that Fenerbahçe’s coaching staff will look at as a reason to tighten the reins on Güler a bit in terms of senior game time at the moment.

Secondly, as you might’ve noticed from the examples we’ve analysed in this piece, Güler typically enjoys a lot of time and space on the ball in deeper areas with Fenerbahçe and in the underage levels in Turkey, and this is something he simply won’t get at the highest levels — where he’ll ultimately want to progress to. He’ll need to be tested under pressure more in order to fulfil his obvious potential and reach the levels he’s capable of reaching.

Lastly, Güler is very left-footed, which is something that could be exploited by intelligent opposition defending. Of course, this is still something the midfielder can improve on but at present, his one-footedness remains a noticeable weakness in his game in relation to passing, dribbling and shooting. To touch on the latter — Güler represents an excellent goal threat, especially when coming from the right half-space where he likes to cut in onto his stronger left foot and bend the ball towards the far corner of the net. Already, this appears to be something of a speciality in his game where it’s easy to predict but extremely difficult to stop.

Given it’s so early and so little a sample size, I don’t want to look too deeply into the underlying numbers and take too much from them but in terms of technique, Güler can get a lot of bend and a lot of pace on the ball when curving it towards the far post with his left foot, while his accuracy has been highly impressive thus far. and he’s currently got the second-best conversion rate in the Turkish Super Lig among wingers and attacking midfielders, trailing only teammate Özil — not bad company. So from the right half-space, Güler generally presents much more of a direct goal threat and a good one, at that.


The next element of Güler’s game that we’ll focus on in this scout report is his dribbling. The midfielder loves to drive forward with the ball from deep and again, showing his worth as an excellent ball progressor when doing so. As we saw in the previous section of analysis, the player is good at moving off the ball to find plenty of space in which to receive the ball and if given plenty of space ahead of him to drive into, the 17-year-old will comfortably use that space and drive his team upfield aggressively and confidently; this is another very noticeable and important element of the teenager’s game.

Figure 9

Figure 9 shows Güler in possession after just receiving the ball wide on the right-wing while surrounded by a couple of opposition players. However, despite Fenerbahçe having an underload in this area of the pitch at this moment, Güler can get out of the tight space with his impressive agility, aggressive and fearless mentality, along with his pace and, of course, technique. Agility, in particular, is a notable element of Güler’s game. The midfielder is great at making sharp turns smoothly, at pace, while remaining in control of the ball. This can be valuable in tight spaces in and around the opposition’s penalty box and in more open spaces when driving forward with the ball from deep, as was the case in figure 9.

Here, as play moves on, the 17-year-old turns sharply towards the centre of the pitch and quickly exits, carrying the ball with him to bring his team into a more threatening position.

Figure 10

After play moves on into figure 10, we see how Güler ended up driving inside with the ball, carrying it more centrally and into more space after finding a way out of the tight space he’d previously been in, where you’d probably say that the opposition had the upper hand. However, thanks to Güler’s ability on the ball and physical qualities, Fenerbahçe came out on top and were able to progress their attack, with Güler taking the ball into a far more threatening position for his side in figure 10.

As we said earlier in this scout report, Güler isn’t a very imposing figure physically. However, he’s not at all afraid to get stuck in and we constantly see that when the player drives forward with the ball, as he’s very comfortable attracting opposition players towards him and engaging in physical duels with them. Here in figure 10, the teenager has attracted an opposition midfielder his way and this player tries to halt the midfielder’s progress by getting physical with a shoulder. Despite that, Güler comfortably remains on the ball as he holds his own against the defensive player and manages to hold off his physical challenges.

Perhaps if the pressure was coming from the other side of Güler — the ball carrier’s left side — it would’ve been more effective because the player is very one-footed, as previously mentioned, and he was comfortable with keeping the ball on his left foot, thus protecting it from the defensive player. Furthermore, this isn’t to say Güler is very strong, he’s not, but he’s comfortable using the strength he does have and going into challenges with energy and enthusiasm to remain in possession and continue carrying the ball forward.

Figure 11

We see another example of Güler using his body to hold up the ball as it’s played into his feet here in figure 11. Just before this image, the pass was sent to the midfielder’s feet by a member of Fenerbahçe’s backline. The 17-year-old dropped to make himself an attractive option for this teammate and receive the ball in space. However, Güler quickly attracted pressure from an opposition midfielder on this occasion.

The midfielder wasn’t put off by the presence of this defender, however, rather he ensured to get his body between the ball and the pressing man to protect it, first and foremost, so if the defensive player did clatter into him, there was a good chance he’d at least win a foul. However, he also braced himself for impact and did his best to hold up the play while keeping the defender at bay. This helped Güler to retain possession despite the pressing player’s presence and continue helping his side to progress upfield.

So, despite a lack of size to some extent, don’t mistake Güler for a guy who can easily be bullied physically. Of course, we’ve seen a limited number of minutes from the teenager at senior level thus far and plenty of players at this level would still be able to outmuscle the midfielder. So, Güler should still improve himself physically to prepare for the demands of top-level football, similarly to how he needs to improve his ability under pressure and in tight spaces, as at times, the playmaker can receive the ball in a tight space and take too heavy a touch, resulting in the ball being easily taken away from him — this is an area of the player’s dribbling game that can be significantly improved. However, from what we’ve seen so far, Güler is confident and prepared to go into battle with opposition players at the top level which are positive signs for the player’s future if he can keep that mentality.

Defensive contribution

The final element of Güler’s game that we’ll discuss in this scout report is his defensive contribution. Again, with limited minutes at senior level, it’s difficult to make too much of an assessment on this area of the player’s game right now but what’s for sure is that similar to what we discussed in the previous sections of analysis where Güler appears aggressive, confident and energetic with the ball, he retains these positive mental attributes without the ball.

Güler has made 10.47 successful defensive actions per 90 this term, which is relatively high when compared with other Super Lig attacking midfielders or wingers. He engages in a high 8.37 defensive duels per 90, with a decent 62.5% success rate. So, Güler doesn’t just offer effort without the ball, he’s been quite good at helping his team force turnovers too, making his defensive effort quite practical as well.

Figure 12

Figures 12-14 will show a passage of play in which Güler’s defensive contribution shines through. Starting with figure 12, here we see Fenerbahçe’s opponents building out from the back, attempting to get past Sarı Kanaryalar’s press. The ball was played out to the left-back, who was positioned just on the edge of the penalty box here. This player was also positioned closely to Güler, leading to the 17-year-old beginning to close down the receiver while keeping the pass into the left central midfielder blocked off by ensuring that player remained in the pressing man’s cover shadow.

Figure 13

With the pass into midfield cut off and while still hoping to carefully progress upfield through Fenerbahçe’s press, the left-back opted to try and break Fenerbahçe’s press by carrying the ball out from the back, which we see as play moves on into figure 13. Güler remained in hot pursuit of the ball carrier, exhibiting his defensive work rate and pace at this moment as he chased the ball carrier down and continued keeping the pass to midfield blocked off.

Figure 14

This passage of play climaxes as we reach figure 14, with Güler managing to knock the ball out of the ball carrier’s control and into touch for a throw-in, creating a situation where his side could keep the pressure on the opposition and try to force a turnover. Güler’s defensive effort in this passage of play provides an excellent example of his defensive effort in general. He doesn’t just work hard off the ball — though that, in and of itself, is extremely important — but he presses with intelligence and doesn’t just rush in to make the challenge at the first opportunity, rather he bides his time until the ball can be won back at just the right moment, after forcing the ball carrier wide, where he had fewer options around him and less space to play into. This shows intelligence in Güler’s defensive game as well as high levels of effort, and this intelligence combined with effort has led to the player’s impressive defensive statistics, albeit with a low sample size — which must be stressed.


To conclude this tactical analysis and scout report, it’s evident that Güler is a highly-exciting talent and I hope this scout report has highlighted some of the key reasons why that is the case. He’s a very exciting playmaker whose scanning and off-the-ball movement stand out as some of the key reasons behind his success, along with his technique both as a passer — particularly from the left half-space — and a dribbler — particularly when allowed to drive forward from deep.

In terms of areas of improvement, Güler can obviously still grow physically and fill out his frame to a greater extent, as is the case for any young player. Furthermore, being challenged in tight spaces more will be to the player’s benefit as he’s sometimes too casual when playing in tight spaces at Super Lig level, which is where he’ll often find himself if operating as an attacking midfielder. He’s good at finding areas where more space is available and killing the opposition from there, but as he progresses in his career, that kind of space will be afforded to him less and less so getting more used to operating in tight spaces will be to the player’s benefit. Lastly, Güler is very one-footed, and this is something that could be exploited a lot as he grows into a first-team regular.