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Former Real Madrid midfielder reflects on failed stint at club: “I wasn’t mentally prepared”



Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

When Real Madrid completed the signing of Nuri Sahin from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2011, it was regarded as a coup. The Turkish ace, after all, was among the most exciting young midfielders at the time in Europe.

However, the move turned out to be a disaster for Sahin as he struggled to gain a foothold in the side under then-manager Jose Mourinho. Injuries did not help his case either and eventually just a year after his arrival, he was shipped off to Liverpool on loan.

Sahin did not lost long in England and was back at Real Madrid in January 2013, at which point he was sent back to Dortmund on a loan deal, which was eventually made permanent in the summer of 2014.

In all, Sahin left Real Madrid with just ten appearances for the club in which he scored and assisted one goal apiece.

Now the manager of Turkish club Antalyaspor, Sahin opened up about what went wrong for him at Real Madrid in a recent interview with MARCA.

“As a player, I was sure I could play for Madrid, I was a player of a high level, but at Madrid, it’s not enough to be a good player, you have to be mentally strong,” Sahin said.

“The Madrid train never stops. I was training with world-class players and I also had quality, but after the injuries, I couldn’t stand the pressure, the tension. I was impatient, I wasn’t mentally prepared,” he added.

Further reflecting on his time at the Spanish capital club, the Antalyaspor manager said: “Looking back, I should have been more patient, more appreciative of where I was. Everyone told me ‘you’re at Madrid, you must be happy’, but that wasn’t enough.”

During his stint at the Santiago Bernabeu, Sahin played under prime Mourinho and revealed his experience of working with the Portuguese tactician.

“That was the hardest year of my career because I had a serious injury and I didn’t play. I didn’t play much and I had superstars around me. I came from Jurgen, who is completely different from Jose,” he said.

“The day I left we had a chat and what I love about him is that he is tremendously honest. He looks you in the eye and tells you everything. If you’re good, you’re good, if you’re not, you’re not. I was young, and I wondered ‘why is he doing this?’

However, now a manager himself, Sahin admitted that he understands where Mourinho was coming from, as he said:

“Now that I’m a coach, I understand that and I think about my time with Jose and I can’t say anything bad. This is the way he works and he never changed it. I learned a lot of things. He’s a winner and he’d give it all for you.”

While things might not have worked out for him at Real Madrid, Sahin believes that Dortmund prodigy Jude Bellingham, a target for Real Madrid, has the goods to succeed at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“But this guy is so mentally prepared. Have you ever seen a player like him? This guy is ready. I hope, as a Dortmund fan, that he stays with us. But this guy is very clever. I have a lot of friends in Dortmund and they told me that when he arrived as a 16-year-old they thought he was a 25-year-old,” he said.

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid have not ‘given up’ on Karim Benzema’s renewal yet – report



Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images

The cloud of uncertainty over Karim Benzema’s future has served as a major headache for the Real Madrid board, as they kickstart their team planning ahead of the new season.

Recent reports claim the Frenchman is strongly considering a move to Saudi Arabia, after receiving a lucrative €150 million offer from Al Ittihad. He was close to renewing his contract at Santiago Bernabeu not too long ago, but it appears the tables have turned lately.

Nevertheless, Real Madrid are yet to give up on Benzema and still harbour hopes of renewing his contract in the coming weeks, reports Alfredo Matilla.

The Spanish journalist suggests Real Madrid have not closed the file on Benzema. Coach Carlo Ancelotti has recently met the forward to clarify his future and it appears the club are set to do everything they can to keep hold of the player.

Benzema’s departure, after all, could put the club in a major dilemma, where they must either sign a top-class striker or settle for a low-cost alternative for the entirety of next season.

Harry Kane has been earmarked as the ideal replacement for Benzema. But his acquisition could potentially jeopardise Real Madrid’s bid to sign either Erling Haaland or Kylian Mbappe in 2024. The club have also faced difficulties negotiating with Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman.

As far as the low-cost options are concerned, Real Madrid are interested in Roberto Firmino, who will become a free agent in the summer.

However, the Brazilian international is not the most productive striker around and his struggles in front of goal could put more pressure on players like Vinicius Junior next season.

Real Madrid, therefore, will hope to keep hold of Benzema’s services for another year. Unfortunately, though, the player has given a cold response so far and left training early, without speaking too much.

So it will be interesting to see whether or not the veteran striker opts to remain at Bernabeu for another year.

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