Turkey’s new manager Mircea Lucescu has recalled Barcelona midfielder Arda Turan to the national squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Croatia and Ukraine, barely three months after the former captain quit international football.
Turan, 30, Turkey’s standout player of the last decade, had in June been thrown out of a training camp by former coach Fatih Terim following a fracas with a reporter on a plane.
But the subsequent departure of Terim — ironically also in the wake of a fistfight — opened the way for the return of Turan who declared in August he was ready for a recall.
The news comes with Turan’s future at the Nou Camp in doubt after failing to hold down a first team place at Barcelona. He joined the Spanish giants in 2015 after four successful seasons with Atletico Madrid.
Also given a surprise call-up is veteran former Inter Milan and Newcastle midfielder Emre Belozoglu, 36, whose international career stalled in 2014 when he was given a suspended jail sentence for racial abuse in a domestic game.
Turkey face a nail-biting struggle to qualify for Russia 2018, currently in third place in their qualifying group, two points behind Croatia and Iceland.
They have four more matches, starting with an away clash against Ukraine, who they lead on goal difference, on September 2, and then home to Croatia in Eskisehir on September 5.
Goalkeepers: Cenk Gonen (Malaga/ESP), Harun Tekin (Bursaspor), Volkan Babacan (Medipol Basaksehir)
Defenders: Kaan Ayhan (Fortuna Duesseldorf/GER)Sener Ozbayrakli (Fenerbahce), Caglar Soyuncu (Freiburg/GER), Mehmet Topal (Fenerbahce), Omer Toprak (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Serdar Aziz (Galatasaray), Caner Erkin (Besiktas), Ismail Koybasi (Fenerbahçe)
Midfielders: Emre Belozoglu (Medipol Basaksehir),Selcuk Inan (Galatasaray), Cengiz Under (Roma/ITA),Emre Mor (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Yusuf Yazici (Trabzonspor), Ozan Tufan (Fenerbahce), Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund/GER), Okay Yokuslu (Trabzonspor), Tolga Cigerci (Galatasaray), Arda Turan (Barcelona/ESP), Hakan Calhanoglu (AC Milan/ITA), Yunus Malli (Wolfsburg/GER)
Forwards: Burak Yilmaz (Trabzsonspor), Cenk Tosun (Besiktas), Enes Unal (Villarreal/ESP)