After a whirlwind season when he was being passed around from club to club like a hot potato, Merih Demiral is finally somewhere he belongs, and is settling in quickly.
The central defender was promoted from Sporting Clube de Portugal’s youth side to the senior team, but before the season started he was shipped out to Turkish side Alanyaspor on loan. By the time the winter mercato came around, they had seen enough in the player that they wanted to make the loan permanent.
However, a day later Sassuolo in Italy came knocking and asked to take Demiral on loan, where he featured 14 times and scored twice in the second half of last season. Sassuolo liked what they saw and negotiated a purchase for the player but then four days later Juventus decided to make an offer for the defender for €18 million — just one year after he had been valued at €700,000.
Speaking during his introductory press conference on Tuesday, the 21-year-old spoke about how important a step this was for him.
“I’m very happy to be here. I know that Juventus is a very important team and for me it’s an honour to be here. I hope to adapt myself to the new environment here as soon as possible. It took a lot of effort for me to get here, but it’s all the result of the work I’ve put in. It’s a dream come true to be here.”
On his playing style and aspirations:
“I always give it my all when I step onto the pitch and the fans appreciate this. I want to reach my best form as soon as possible so that the fans can appreciate me even more. It’s true that Juventus have some of the best players in the world, especially in defence. Therefore, I hope to be in my best form and fight for a starting place.”
While Juventus has been represented by multiple nationalities in its storied history, Demiral will be the first player from Turkey to wear the stripes.
“To be the first Turkish player to play for Juventus is an absolute honour for me and I will try to be a role model here.”
Demiral has already made an impression on the fans, scoring the decisive penalty to beat hated rivals Inter Milan in a preseason friendly. He was asked about his own thoughts about of Juve so far:
“I’ve been really impressed with the training facilities here. I hope to be at this club for as long as possible. Juventus starts every season looking to win as many trophies as possible, and because Juve are so determined to do so, I’m confident that a lot of good things can happen this season.”
He went on to talk about the influence of his new teammates and manager:
“Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci have been helping me a lot to settle in here as well as the other players, I hope to learn a lot from them. Maurizio Sarri looks over the defensive side of play personally, and this allows me to train in the best possible way and work on my weaknesses. Emre Can is helping me a lot to settle in both on and off the pitch and I’d like to thank him publicly for that.”
His short time at Sassuolo gave him some valuable Calcio experience -
“Going to Sassuolo last season allowed me to gain a lot of experience here in Italy. It’s the best country in the world to be a defender in and I want to improve here both technically and tactically.”
Demiral’s playing style has already been compared to that of club legend Paolo Montero by Bianconeri.
“To be compared to Montero is an honour for me. I hope to be able to show the fans that I’m a strong defender and live up to that expectation. My real idols are the players that I’m playing with now, like Chiellini.”