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

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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’s 29-year-old star upset with his situation, desires more clarity on role

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Photo by MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP via Getty Images

At Real Madrid, the quest for securing a spot in the first-team lineup involves battling it out with some of the best players in European football.

Competition is generally considered the perfect antidote to complacency and the Merengues‘ immensely talented roster encapsulates that sentiment best.

While injuries have done a number on the team, there is still an abundance of competition in the squad. As of now, the fight for a spot in the starting lineup is most intense among the goalkeepers.

Indeed, since the beginning of the campaign, there has been no fixed goalkeeper with both Andriy Lunin and Kepa Arrizabalaga featuring between the sticks alternately.

However, after being acquired on a season-long loan to fill in the absence of Thibaut Courtois, Kepa is not entirely content with his situation.

Kepa unsatisfied with the unclarity

Indeed, as per The Athletic, Kepa is extremely disappointed with his situation and how the coaching staff at Real Madrid have been handling the matter.

Ancelotti has not clearly explained his reasoning as to which of Lunin and Kepa is currently his first-choice keeper.

And according to sources close to him, Kepa is unhappy and would have preferred further clarification on the matter from the manager.

Lunin in the driving seat

Making a big impression. (Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Owing to Lunin’s exceptional form lately, he has successfully displaced Kepa as the first-choice goalkeeper.

In fact, Kepa has not started a game since Real Madrid’s clash against Almeria last month in which they leaked two goals.

It is safe to assume Kepa’s frustrations stem from the fact that he initially arrived as the primary keeper to replace Courtois and turned down an offer from Bayern Munich to join the Madrid outfit.

As such, being shunned and having minimal clarity from the coaching staff’s preferred goalkeeper has led to dissatisfaction.

As things stand, Real Madrid have no plans of signing him permanently, given that Chelsea would ask around €20 million for him, something that the club have intentions of paying.

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