Done deal! Melbourne City announce signing of Serie A midfielder with impressive CV

Melbourne City have announced the signing of 32-year-old German midfielder Tolgay Arslan from Serie A side Udinese on a two-year deal.

When Tolgay Arslan was playing for Turkish giants Besiktas, an inner voice told him “one day I will play in Australia”. Now, the experienced midfielder has swapped Serie A football for Melbourne City in a major coup for the Isuzu UTE A-League premiers.

City are going through a rebuild after their Grand Final defeat to Central Coast Mariners, with Aiden O’Neill (Standard Liege), Jordan Bos (Westerlo), Thomas Glover, Thomas Lam and Richard van der Venne all departing for Europe, while Marco Tilio has also been tipped to test himself abroad.

The three-time reigning premiers have wasted no time preparing for the 2023-24 season by bringing in Arslan directly from Udinese, where he made 36 Serie A appearances last term.

Primarily used as a central midfielder, Arslan also boasts the flexibility to play in multiple roles
across the middle of the park.

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In 2022-23, the 32-year-old former Turkey and Germany youth international started 12 of his 36 league matches, scoring against UEFA Champions League finalists and Serie A powerhouse Inter in September’s 3-1 upset.

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Arslan celebrates scoring against Inter in September.

Across his three seasons at Dacia Arena, the ex-Hamburg, Besiktas and Fenerbahce midfielder featured in 96 Serie A games and 101 across all competitions, netting five goals.

“I remember when I was playing for Besiktas in Turkey, I had an inner voice saying, ‘one day I
will play in Australia’,” he said.

“I have three kids and as a family, we decided to do something new after Udinese. I’m really happy with the decision now to come to Australia. For me, it was Melbourne or nothing.

“I love the way Melbourne City play and the way they dominate the football. After my first talk
with the director (Michael Petrillo) and coach (Rado Vidosic), I had a very good feeling and
knew this was where I wanted to play.

“I have three uncles in Melbourne so will already have a little family here. It sounds like a good
family atmosphere at City and I can’t wait to meet all my teammates and the fans.”

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A two-time Super Lig winner with Besiktas, where he was teammates with former Adelaide United and Western United defender Ersan Gulum, Arslan earned a move to Borussia Dortmund’s youth team in 2003 having started his career at local club Grun-Weib Paderborn.

After six years with the youth side at Dortmund, he moved to Hamburg, where he amassed 83 Bundesliga appearances.

During his first season, Arslan was part of the Hamburg side – boasting Ruud van Nistelrooy, Mladen Petric, Paolo Guerrero, Ze Roberto and Jerome Boateng – that reached the 2009-10 Europa League semi-finals, losing to Mark Schwarzer’s Fulham.

In 2015, he swapped Germany for Turkey and was signed by Besiktas, where he won back-to-back league crowns.

Arslan also came up against Liverpool in the 2014-15 Europa League round of 32 and he not scored the goal to level the tie on aggregate, but converted a spot-kick before Dejan Lovren missed as Besiktas eliminated the Premier League giants in a shoot-out.

He spent the 2019-20 season with Fenerbahce before sealing a switch to Udinese.

“We are incredibly excited about Tolgay’s signing, he’s got a winning mentality and we’re
looking forward to welcoming him to Melbourne,” said City’s director of football Michael Petrillo.

“He has played at the top level in Turkey, Germany and Italy; just last season making 36 appearances for Udinese in the Serie A and he is a proven winner, having won two
Championships with Besiktas.

“With his pedigree, work ethic, ability to control the play and versatility, he will be a key asset for our midfield. He has a great first touch and passing ability, which really suits the City style of play.

“On the pitch his natural football technique and attacking ability will fit right into our style of
football, and off the pitch, he will bring leadership and experience to the dressing room.”