For Borussia Dortmund midfielder Nuri Şahin, the trip to London to take on Arsenal FC will give him some idea of what might have been.
The Turkish international has turned down the Gunners three times in his career, most recently in 2012 when he opted to move to their Premier League rivals Liverpool FC. "It was very close," he said. "Three times in my career I was almost at Arsenal. It never happened, but that is normal in football.
"It was a good time for me to be part of a great club like Liverpool with such history and good team-mates. I think I was 16 the first time and then last summer we spoke with Arsenal, but in the end I signed with Liverpool."
The 25-year-old Şahin's career has gone full circle since he left the BVB Stadion Dortmund following the club's 2011 Bundesliga title triumph. He joined Real Madrid CF that summer but was unable to force his way into their starting lineup and so moved to Liverpool on loan for six months at the start of 2012/13. His time on the pitch was only slightly less limited, however, and he played only seven league matches at Anfield before heading back to Dortmund in January.
It was during his brief stay in Madrid that Şahin played alongside somebody he could well line up against on Tuesday night – Mesut Özil, who has been in scintillating form since joining Arsenal in August. "He is a great player and good friend of mine," he explained. "If you said he was the only player for Arsenal it would be disrespectful, but you can definitely say he is an important part of the team."
For all his respect for Arsenal's talented individuals, though, Şahin believes Dortmund have nothing to fear in this Group F contest. "During a game, it doesn't matter who is against you. It is important that we have our match plan and if we manage to have our plan and play accordingly we don't have to worry about individual match-ups."
Of his own form, he has slowly been working his way back into the team since returning to Dortmund. He missed the 1-0 win over Hannover 96 in the most recent round of Bundesliga matches that leaves them second, one point behind FC Bayern München.
"It hasn't taken me that long," he said, reflecting on his reintegration into the team. "The team developed as well as the players, so I didn't take that much time. It isn't that different, though I knew familiarity would come with time. I have the support of the team and the coach and I know the style, so once I adapt [fully] I will be fine."
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