Juventus have been the talk of this summer’s transfer window, having been linked with a string of world-class players – as well as getting up to their usual market tricks of snapping up some of the best talent around Europe for free.
Aaron Ramsey and Adrien Rabiot are the Old Lady’s two highest profile signings so far this summer – both for free – and it looks likely that they will be joined in Turin next season by Ajax wonderboy Matthijs de Ligt.
While negotiations over that deal rumble on, there is one other bit of business that Juve have successfully concluded. That of 21-year-old defender Merih Demiral, signed from Sassuolo.
Many won’t be familiar with who he is exactly, but he must have something about him as Atlético Madrid also tried to sign him this summer. Indeed, he had a cracking second half to last season – prompting La Vecchia Signora to go out and nab him.
Need to know some bits about him? Sure, have four courtesy of 90min…
He’s a Full Turkish International
Demiral has been around the international scene for a number of years, representing Turkey at every youth level imaginable. He’s now stepped up to the senior side, making his debut for the senior team in November 2018 against Ukraine in a 0-0 draw.
The former Sassuolo star has now become a mainstay for the Turks, playing every minute of the 2020 European Championship qualifiers to date. If that doesn’t tell you he’s good, who knows what will?
With new Schalke signing Ozan Kabak also among their ranks, Turkey look to have a bright future in the centre-back department – and will hope that the two youngsters can form a formidable partnership.
He Kept Pogba, Griezmann and Mbappe Quiet in Shock Win Over France
Despite a great campaign with Sassuolo, what caught the attention of some of the footballing world was his eye-catching display against world champions France in the recent Euro 2020 qualifiers.
Turkey played brilliantly, securing a shock 2-0 win against the World Cup holders, who fielded a star-studded line-up that included the likes of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann. It was a great team performance but Demiral was one player who really stood out.
He helped limit France to just four shots of goal, none of which were on target. His tackling ability, strength and general physicality earned plaudits after the game – and he contributed the assist for Turkey’s opening goal, rising highest to nod back across goal to Kaan Ayhan, who turned the ball past Hugo Lloris.
He Has Been Previously Been Tipped for Stardom
Demiral started off the 2018/19 campaign with Turkish Süper Lig side Alanyaspor, after joining from Sporting CP in January 2018 for a meagre £3m.
High hopes were expected of him, and he was more than up for the challenge. During his time there, he demonstrated a great reading of the game, knowing when to step forward and make a tackle. He averaged over four tackles and interceptions per game – more than twice that of his new Juve teammate Leonardo Bonucci.
When his transfer to Sassuolo was announced, Alanyaspor manager Sergen Yalçın stated: “Merih Demiral will be a Premier League player within 1-2 seasons. The Turkish national team has its new centre-back for the next 10-12 years”- a prophecy that Demiral has surpassed as he has joined one of Europe’s elite already.
He’s Nomadic to Say the Least
For all the good things to say, there is one slight issue – potentially. That issue is that he doesn’t appear capable of staying anywhere for more than five minutes.
After rising through Fenerbahçe’s youth ranks, Demiral joined AC Alcanenense in the Portuguese third tier – admirably seeking regular playing time. He was soon spotted by Sporting CP’s scouts, and nabbed for £180,000 in 2017.
His aforementioned move to Alanyspor followed, before pitching up in Serie A with Sassuolo last season. Now, aged just 21, he’s joining his fifth permanent club – but it’s likely that he’ll want to stick around at Juventus for many years to come.
Alongside the previously mentioned Kabak and Cengiz Ünder, Demiral is regarded as one of Turkey’s finest prospects – and is definitely one to keep an eye on this season and beyond.