Merih Demiral: Profile of talented Turkish defender and Juventus outcast

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 Qualifier - Group H - France v Turkey - Stade De France, Saint-Denis, France - October 14, 2019 Turkey's Merih Demiral celebrates at the end of the match REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

Merih Demiral was and still is a hot defensive prospect in Serie A. An impressive 2018/19 was enough to catch the eye of Juventus, who signed the defender for €18 million in July. We’re in January and he’s made 3 appearances in Serie A for the side. Fair to say the move hasn’t worked out for the 21 year old.

Demiral, having just moved to Turin, is now being linked to moves to other top European sides. According to the Sky Sports, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid were interested in the Turkish international. The latest news today is that Leicester have had a bid in excess of €30 million rejected by Juventus, according to Sky Sports, with Dortmund also having a bid rejected now.

It’s a testament to the talent and quality Demiral has that despite being frozen out of the Bianconeri by Maurizio Sarri, he’s still being linked to top sides for a hefty fee. Either way, we’ll explain why everyone wants him:

Merih Demiral – Style of Play

266,000 views on this video. Europe really knows how good this young defender can be.

At 6ft 3, Demiral has a massive physical presence in the box. His strength allows him to shrug off opposition attackers with ease, using his body to shield the ball effectively. It also provides his side with an aerial threat from crosses or set pieces. As you can see in the video, the guy can definitely head the ball. But with this height and strength, you’d expect a trade off with pace and ball control. Not with the former Alanyaspor defender:

Maybe I’m blind, but I counted at a least dozen times in the video where the striker was comfortably 2-3 yards ahead of Demiral. Yet he caught up every time and cleared the ball to safety.

Merih Demiral in action for Juventus

His slide tackling is IMMENSE. That’s not even an exaggeration. Demiral’s positional sense and reading of the game is good. But if the striker has even the slightest edge on him, he’s able to catch up with his athleticism and slide in. Every time in the video, he executed it to perfection. Yes, a compilation is meant to make him look good, but still, he looks incredible.

Moreover, 1.7 long balls per game and 87% pass accuracy in 2018/19 speaks for itself. He’s calm and confident with the ball at his feet, which seems to be fundamental for the modern day defender. Blame Pep Guardiola. I miss when my centre half booted it into Row Z. Good times…

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1 Comment

  1. Typical ill-informed article. Demiral is not an outcast at Juve. He is being eased into the side as is De Ligt. Demiral has started the last 4 games for Juve so get your facts right. As for Central Defenders playing the ball out of the back – nothing to do with Pep Guardiola. Italian defenders like Baresi, Scirea, Cannavaro, Nesta and Bonucci have been doing it for decades. This is obviously a British article – no clue about anything outside of the Premier League.

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