(CNN) – Real Madrid have signed 18-year-old soccer sensation Arda Güler from Turkish side Fenerbahçe, the Spanish club announced on Thursday.
Güler is one of the most highly sought-after prospects in the sport and his signing was rumored to be a contest between numerous big-name teams.
But Real eventually won the race to add his talent and potential to its squad, with Güler signing a six-year contract with the club.
At his official unveiling with his visibly emotional family in tow, Güler expressed his excitement at signing for the historic club, leaping to the lectern next to club president Florentino Pérez before the Los Blancos supremo was finished with his speech.
Güler then shared a brief comment: “First of all, thank you to my family, to the people who have helped me get to this point and to this club. I also want to be a legend of Real Madrid. Thanks for everything.”
Güler’s low center of gravity, close control and ability to dribble in tight spaces – as well as his preferred position on the right side of the pitch to allow him to cut in on his stronger left foot – have earned him comparisons with Argentine great Lionel Messi, with fans dubbing him the “Turkish Messi.”
He has enjoyed a breakthrough season at Fenerbahçe over the past 12 months, having made his first-team debut in 2021 as a 16-year-old – he provided an assist on his debut giving fans a glimpse of what was to come.
He scored six goals in 35 appearances over the 2022/23 season, helping Fenerbahçe to a Turkish Cup victory with a performance for which he was named Man of the Match.
According to stats website Opta, Güler created 40 goalscoring chances – one every 23 minutes – over the last season which is the best average on record by a player in a Süper Lig season since 2014/15.
Güler posted an emotional goodbye message to Fenerbahçe on Twitter, saying: “It’s time to say goodbye to Fenerbahçe, where I had the best days of my life.
“I will never forget the first time I wore the iconic jersey that I dreamed of, the pride of being the number 10 jersey, the magnificent Fenerbahçe fans and the amazing support I encountered everywhere I set foot.
“It’s hard to say goodbye, but I had to make this decision to make those who believe in me more proud, to give hope to everyone who is about to give up, and to prove that Turkish youth can achieve anything they want. My endless thanks to everyone who has helped me become the person I am today.
“My dear Fenerbahçe, you will always be in my heart and I will always remember you with good memories for opening the door for me for the national team, and making me live a dream.”
Güler is also a part of the Turkish national team squad, making his debut as a 17-year-old.
Since then, he has earned four caps and scored his first international goal for the senior team in his last game, curling home a stunning effort against Wales in a European Championship qualifier.
In doing so, Güler became the youngest player in his country’s history to score for the national side at just 18 years and 114 days old.
He will now compete for a spot in Real’s starting team alongside a host of talent, including Vinícius Jr. and Rodrygo in the frontline and the team’s exceptional midfield group which has added Jude Bellingham to go alongside Toni Kroos, Luka Modrić, Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde and Aurélien Tchouaméni.
The excitement of his arrival in Madrid has seemed to permeate to the dressing room with Real star Vinícius Jr. tweeting: “Yet another who chooses the greatest.”