Bench-warming for new Barca man Turan, says Neil Humphreys
Barca's new signing Turan will see more of the bench than the ball
Welcome to six months sitting in the stands, Arda Turan, followed by a lengthy spell on the bench.
That's the trouble with joining Barcelona. It's like a portrait painter being brought in to touch up the Mona Lisa. The brushes might as well be left behind.
When the game's pinnacle is considered base camp and immortality is expected, first-class men suddenly find themselves bumped into economy through no fault of their own.
Turan was an inspiring presence in Atletico Madrid's midfield and indispensable as Turkey skipper.
But, with a scribble on his new five-year Barcelona contract, he went from main man to making up the numbers.
At most clubs, £24.1 million ($50.6m) buys a superstar. At Barcelona, it buys a stop-gap.
And the signing shouldn't really be viewed in any other context.
The Catalan side must always do things a little differently from the common herd.
Even his purchase is unorthodox. Legally, he's a Barcelona player but, technically, he isn't, not quite.
If, after the Barcelona presidential elections on July 18, the winning candidate doesn't fancy the bearded Turk, he staggers back to the Atletico with his tail between his legs.
Even if Turan gets the green light from the new president, he stays in the stands until January, thanks to a Fifa transfer ban for breaching rules over the signings of underage players.
And, even then, who does the 28-year-old replace?
Turan certainly isn't replacing Xavi Hernandez, not in a literal or a tactical sense.
The Barcelona legend was effectively replaced last season, his diminishing influence offset by the remarkable rise of Ivan Rakitic and the Duracell Bunny Andres Iniesta.
Diminutive in stature but a giant of the game, Xavi's final appearance in the Champions League final was his 44th of the season. But the 35-year-old had turned into a respected Hollywood veteran, called upon for scene-stealing supporting roles.
The Xavi-less line-up in the Champions League final was a breathtaking study in creative breadth and depth, a formidable first 11 almost without weakness.
Barcelona's front six are flawless, capable of wandering into just about any starting line-up across the continent. But being unbeatable doesn't make them invulnerable.
Barca's bench needed a fresh coat of varnish. Aside from Xavi and possibly Pedro Rodriguez, Luis Enrique's reinforcements in Berlin might not overwhelm Arsene Wenger's back-up men on an average day at Arsenal.
Fortune favoured the brilliant last season. The Catalan team were mostly spared serious injury.
Their biggest handicap was Luis Suarez's four-month ban, which didn't kill them but made them stronger. By the New Year, the irrepressible Uruguayan had galvanised a flagging side.
Unwittingly, Suarez's enforced absence also indicated to the coaching staff that a newcomer could still be accommodated in the second half of a campaign, paving the way for Turan to follow in the striker's tried-and-tested footsteps.
The utility man will fill decaying holes and rally weary teammates, when Barcelona again search for that second wind after Christmas.
An intelligent, powerful performer, adept in all three positions across the narrow midfield formation that Barca favour, Turan is an excellent squad addition.
As Iniesta's 32nd birthday draws closer next year, both Turan and Rakitic are capable of playing either side of the bullish Sergio Busquets.
Turan is not one for the future. He's an immediate, necessary purchase for a club with an untouchable first 11, but a scratchy squad.
Indeed, Turan might be asked to step up for a player who never stepped in.
Both the boardroom and the dugout agree on the identity of Barcelona's annual super summer signing, the one who pleases both artists and accountants.
Paul Pogba has the biggest target on his back since elephant hunting was outlawed.
At 22, he runs midfield for Juventus and France like an old despot with a better haircut. He brings the promise of European domination to whoever wins his expensive signature.
If Barcelona woo the man with the Mohawk, Turan slips further down the pecking order, falling behind Pogba, Rakitic and a fully energised Iniesta.
But, if Pogba moves elsewhere - and Manchester United are eager to wash away the biggest transfer stain on Sir Alex Ferguson's resume - then Turan makes for an able deputy.
The midfielder may see more of the bench than the ball, but he'll have a regal role to play nonetheless.
When he finally walks out with the Catalan side, he still walks with kings.
Pogba next for Barca?
Vote for me and you will see Paul Pogba in a Barcelona jersey next season.
That is the promise that Joan Laporta has made, if he is elected as the new president on July 18.
The 53-year-old, attempting to regain the position he lost at the club in 2010, denied suggestions that the Catalan giants would end their interest in Juventus and French midfielder Pogba (below), following the acquisition of Turkey international Arda Turan yesterday.
Laporta will be standing against current president Josep Bartomeu, Toni Freixa, Agusti Benedito and Joan Batiste for the presidency.
Laporta's comments are also contrary to reports last week that Barca had agreed to wait until next summer before bringing in the young midfielder.
"Arda's signing is not incompatible with Pogba's," Laporta told reporters. "If we win the elections, we will try to bring Pogba here this year.
"The key to the signing of Pogba is his agent, Mino Raiola, and we have a good relationship with him.
"We are convinced it would be good for Pogba to play at Barca."
Barcelona president Bartomeu, on the other hand, insisted that the club are not in the market to sign Pogba.
Widespread reports suggested Barcelona would put in a big-money bid to convince Juventus to sell their prized asset this summer.
However, Bartomeu said that there are no plans in place to take him to the Nou Camp.
"We will not buy Pogba this year," said Bartomeu.
"We are not planning with him for next season. He is not part of our sporting plans for 2015/16 at this stage."
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi has revealed the pain of losing the Copa America final after the football superstar faced criticism in his native Argentina.
Messi finally posted a statement on his Facebook account late on Monday, having hidden his devastation at losing another major final since the 4-1 penalty shoot-out defeat by Chile last Saturday.
"There's nothing more painful in football than losing a final," Messi said.
"But I don't want to leave it any longer to say 'thank you' to everyone who has always supported us and continued to during the tough moments."
Messi, 28, has now lost one World Cup and two Copa America finals and still has to win a major international event despite his success with Barcelona.
Argentina, beaten 1-0 by Germany in last year's World Cup final, have not won a major title for 22 years.
Unconfirmed Spanish media reports said that Messi turned down the Player of the Tournament trophy, which was withdrawn before the presentation ceremony in Santiago.
Members of Messi's family were also abused by Chilean fans at the match, according to Argentinian media. Some observers have warned that Messi could walk away from the national side.
"One day, this boy is going to get tired and will not want to come to play for the team," former Argentina international Matias Almeyda, now coach of the Banfield club, told Fox Sports television.
"He's the best player in the world and he is not treated in the way he deserves."
Messi had a brilliant season with the all-conquering Barcelona, but Almeyda said "it is very difficult (for Argentinian players) to repeat for the national team what they do for their clubs". - Wire Services.