It is all about Tuesdays and Wednesdays in Europe for the Turkey
international, the prospect of being in the second tier of continental
competition a temporary inconvenience he was prepared to accept to assist
Sahin walked away from Real Madrid and rejected a move to Sunday’s opponents, Arsenal, to join Brendan Rodgers’ reconstruction, claiming he would get more fulfilment from helping a club at the start of a new journey than one expected to be in the top four.
There is still a tone of incredulity when he is asked why he joined Liverpool
instead of Arsenal, but the legacy of the Merseyside club’s last
Sahin was a spectator in Istanbul in 2005, part of the Turkish under-17 squad invited to the Ataturk Arena, and if Liverpool fans considered victory over AC Milan a spiritual experience, their new signing is inclined to agree.
“The football God was with Liverpool that night,” said Sahin. “We were sitting with the Liverpool fans and at half-time when it was 3-0 the people were crying.
“Then Dietmar Hamann comes on and the game changes. On this night, when I saw Steven Gerrard with the Champions League trophy, I thought I want to win this cup one day.”
Such romanticism will be lapped up at Anfield, but Sahin knows it will not prevent further probing of why he chose Liverpool’s rebuild above Arsenal’s Champions League participation.
It has been suggested the financial terms on offer at Anfield were more attractive than those in London.
“Money? You don’t know me very well if you think I would go for money,” says Sahin. “If it was about money I wouldn’t be here. I had quite a lot of offers that would have allowed me to earn three times as much as I will earn here.
“I’m 23 years old, I turn 24 next week and I don’t care about money. I know that I will earn a lot of money in my career if everything goes well and it would be impossible in my situation and in my mind to put money above playing football.
“I could have gone to many places and earned much more than here. The only reason I am here is that I know that I can play football here, I know that I have a manager who trusts in me and the way I play and I am at a huge club. That is why I am here.”
Sahin says the attraction of Anfield had more to do with familiarity than economics.
In Rodgers, he sees a resemblance of Jurgen Klopp, the Borussia Dortmund coach who shifted the power of the Bundesliga with Sahin as his midfield conductor.
Sahin left for the Bernabeu in 2011. He was injured and could not establish a regular spot. His move to Liverpool is, in effect, part of his rehabilitation. He will most likely return to Spain next summer but insists his mind is open to all possibilities.
“It would be perfect if I had a very hard decision with one or two nights without sleeping,” he says. “That will mean we’ve played a very good season and that I’ve played a good season.
“When I spoke to my family, I told them that Brendan Rodgers is a bit like Jurgen Klopp in the way that he thinks about football. Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool are similar as well.
"The people are crazy about the clubs, the stadiums are fantastic and the way they want to play football with a high tempo and high level passing that is also similar so that made my decision easier.
“In Dortmund, we were a team. In the first season when Klopp arrived we were sixth, then the next season we were fifth. Then we became champions and last season Dortmund were champions again.
"That’s because of a long-term project and I think Brendan Rodgers will bring his mind about football to Liverpool. As a club, and with the supporters, there will be only one way and that is up. It’s a challenge to come to a club that is building at the start, like we were in Dortmund.
“There are the Manchester teams and the London teams like Tottenham and others, and Liverpool are up there. It will be very difficult but I know we will do everything to get into the top four.
"I’m not here to be a hero. As a team we can become heroes because three years without playing in the Champions League is too long. To bring the club back to those nights on Tuesday and Wednesday will be perfect.”