The comparisons were understandable. Born just over a month apart, each in Germany with Turkish roots, and impressing as youngsters in the Bundesliga in their formative years, Mesut Ozil and Nuri Sahin both left to join Real Madrid and subsequently moved to England. But while one enjoyed spectacular success in La Liga and is now blossoming in the Premier League, the other failed to hit the heights in Spain and England.
Both men were identified by Jose Mourinho as key components for the Portuguese at Real. Ozil settled quickly and connected instantly with fans at the Santiago Bernabeu and, in an era dominated by Pep Guardiola's brilliant Barcelona, Madrid now had a footballer who was a match technically for the midfield masters at Camp Nou.
Something similar was expected of Sahin. Nuri became the youngest player to appear in the Bundesliga as he made his debut at 16 years and 344 days in 2005 and, following a year-long loan at Feyenoord, later led Borussia Dortmund to the title in 2010-11 - at the tender age of 22. Sahin scored seven and assisted eight in BVB's success that season, yet his contribution was much more than that. He had pulled the strings in midfield for Jurgen Klopp's team and was voted Bundesliga Player of the Season.
A move to Madrid was his reward and the youngster was tipped for great things. "Sahin is going to become one of the best midfielders around in Europe over the next few years," Germany legend Paul Breitner said at the time. It sounded good - and it sounded plausible.