It has been a season to forget for Turkey's captain Arda Turan. Adored at Atletico Madrid, the tireless midfielder was unable to turn down the call of Barcelona last summer, despite being barred from playing for the first six months due to the club's transfer ban.
He waited six months to make his debut for the Catalan giants, but, as feared prior to the move, first-team opportunities have been difficult to come by. Those frustrations were underlined on Sunday (22 May). While his national team warmed up for their Euro 2016 campaign at the Etihad Stadium against England – a side that was also without key figures Nuri Sahin and Burak Yilmaz – Turan sat on the bench as Barcelona battled to a 2-0 Copa del Rey success over Sevilla. Even when Luis Suarez limped off after 57 minutes, Luis Enrique turned to Rafinha rather than the Turkey international. A week earlier, he was limited to just 11 minutes in the end-of-season victory over Granada, coming off the bench to replace Ivan Rakitic with the game, and league title, already won.
Given his lack of playing time in Spain, the 29-year-old is already being linked with another move to the usual suspects; Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea, all reportedly expressing interest before his move to the Nou Camp. In a season where Barcelona's lack of depth was often exposed, Turan will feel he could and perhaps should have contributed more. Despite his underwhelming club campaign, Turan will spearhead his country's challenge in France this summer where he will be hoping to put those disappointments behind him.
Under Diego Simeone, we saw the best of a player whose relentless work rate, intelligence and fiery determination across a variety of positions made him a vital cog in the club's success. Things have been different at Barcelona where adjusting to a very different dynamic under Luis Enrique has been taxing. Six months without a game couldn't have helped either. A place in a La Liga worst XI of the season seemed harsh given the circumstances.
For Turkey, however, it's the same old story. His participation in France this summer will take him into 90-plus appearances for his country where his invention and vision will be just as important as his relentless work rate. With Turkey now a more cosmopolitan side with many of their newer stars having benefited from a footballing education in Germany, Turan, along with Memhet Topal and Nuri Sahin will provide a more experienced blend alongside the likes of Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup and Bayer Leverkusen star Hakan Calhanoglu.
Turkey coach Fatih Terim was around to lead the club in their exhilarating 2008 campaign where the 'never-say-die' spirit he instilled in his squad fuelled their late dramatics in the knockout stages. Traces of that were evident when his side qualified for this summer's competition in unlikely circumstances following a wretched start to their qualifying campaign, recovering to take 17 points from their last seven games.
Turkey aren't regulars in major international competition, but when they are there, they usually make it count. With Turan itching once again to make a telling contribution to his team's fortunes, they stand a chance of doing it again this summer.