Liverpool’s late move for Juventus’ Arthur Melo: A stop-gap in midfield

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It was after midnight on Wednesday when Liverpool sports director Julian Ward made the move to Juventus for Arthur Melo.

Just hours earlier, Jurgen Klopp’s side had beaten Newcastle United 2-1 thanks to Fabio Carvalho’s dramatic late winner at Anfield. However, the manager’s sense of joy was dampened by the news that captain Jordan Henderson had damaged his hamstring.

That proved to be the trigger for Liverpool to finally bolster their exhausted midfield division. Klopp, Ward and Fenway Sports Group chairman Mike Gordon fully agreed. Sitting still was no longer an option.

Failing to strike a deal on any of their long-term goals and with the transfer deadline fast approaching, Liverpool eventually aimed for what is essentially a temporary signing.

The Brazilian international has been loaned out for a season. With the 26-year surplus under Massimiliano Allegri and Juventus eager to get him off their wage bill, it wasn’t a difficult deal to work out.


The move from Liverpool to Arthur happened quickly (Image: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Juventus released a statement late on Thursday revealing that the loan for Arthur is €4.5 million and that Liverpool will have the option to buy him for €37.5 million next summer. He will have to have some impact to justify that kind of spending. Earlier in the day, sources had indicated that the deal would be a direct loan with no option to make the deal permanent.

Arthur, who had sparked interest from Valencia and Sporting, among others, needed little persuasion to make the switch to Anfield.

He knows the Liverpool trio of Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino well from his national team duties and believes this is the fresh start he needs to revitalize his career. He is excited about the chance to play for Klopp and is desperate to use this podium to see regular action and secure his place in Brazil’s squad for the World Cup in Qatar.

Things moved quickly. At 10 a.m. Thursday, Arthur was on a private plane with his agent Federico Pastorello en route from Turin to the UK to undergo his medical treatment. Despite not having played for Juventus so far this season, sources close to the player are claiming that he is fit and ready to play.

It’s not the booming statement of intent many supporters were hoping for ahead of the window closing, but it’s been clear for some time that the owners were reluctant to spend any significant amount now that Liverpool’s primary midfield goals were unavailable in this window.

It has been a hotly debated topic since Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in June in the race to buy deep-set playmaker Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco. Initially, Klopp ruled out pursuing an alternative and was adamant that he would like to start this season with the options already at his disposal.

Jude Bellingham is at the top of his wish list but Borussia Dortmund would never sell him this summer as he had already lost Erling Haaland to Manchester City. Liverpool hope to sign the £100m ($115.4m) England international next year.

An injury crisis led Klopp to change his mind about the need to sign a contract when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Thiago and Naby Keita all retired in quick succession. However, the manager also made it clear publicly that he is not in control. He insisted he felt sufficiently supported by the owners, but admitted: “From time to time I would take a little more risk, but I decide not.”

Last week, Liverpool inquired about Austria international Konrad Laimer, who is in the final year of his contract, but RB Leipzig were reluctant to lose him so close to the deadline.

The situation eased somewhat when Jones returned to the squad this week, but with fears that Henderson will be sidelined until after the international break, Liverpool simply couldn’t sit back and do nothing. Fabinho, Harvey Elliott, Fabio Carvalho, James Milner, Jones and academy teenager Stefan Bajcetic would have been the only midfielders available.

Henderson


Henderson’s hamstring injury prompted a reconsideration (Picture: Tim Goode/PA Images via Getty Images)

They clamored for coverage with an injection of quality and experience, especially given that Liverpool are playing five games in a 15-day span this month and then nine in a 28-day span in October.

The last time the club acted hastily towards the end of a transfer window, it didn’t pay off. Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies were cheap options to alleviate a central defender crisis in January 2021 with a deal for Ibrahima Konate already in the pipeline for that summer. Neither looked good as Liverpool decided not to activate their option to buy Kabak after his loan from Schalke and Davies who left for Rangers without ever appearing.

The difference with Arthur, who still has three years left on his contract with Juventus, is that he has a much larger pedigree.

Liverpool recruiting staff consider him to be similar in profile to Thiago. He is technically gifted, pressure resistant and comfortable in possession.

One criticism of him in Italy is that he takes too many touches and is too conservative with his passing. He has also had injury problems himself.

But his resume is certainly impressive. We’re talking about a player who celebrated the glory of the Copa Libertadores with Gremio in his home country before sealing a €40 million (£34.5 million; $39.8 million) transfer to Barcelona in 2018. Lionel Messi compared his style to Xavi’s, saying: “The one who always wants the ball, plays it short and doesn’t lose it.”

Arthur won La Liga and helped Brazil triumph at the 2019 Copa America. National team boss Tite said: “He always finds the best break, the best pass out.” After four goals and six assists in 72 appearances for Barcelona, ​​he moved to Juventus in June 2020.

It was part of a barter deal where Miralem Pjanic went the other way in what was basically a balancing act. Juventus agreed to pay €72 million for Arthur in four installments with a possible €10 million to follow in add-ons. Pjanic went the other way for €60 million in four installments with possible add-ons worth €5 million.

Juventus were able to book a capital gain of €41.8 million on Pjanic, but it did not work for both clubs on the pitch. Arthur has one goal and one assist in 63 appearances for Juventus.

It didn’t help his adjustment period in Turin that manager Maurizio Sarri was sacked just a month after he arrived following the defeat to Lyon in the last-16 of the Champions League when football resumed amid the pandemic.

Andrea Pirlo, who was promoted from the under-23 to the senior job, wanted Arthur and Manuel Locatelli to play together in midfield, as Italy uses Jorginho and Marco Verratti. However, Juventus were unable to sign Locatelli until the summer of 2021 and Arthur didn’t seem to be able to keep fit or last for 90 minutes. The membrane between the tibia and fibula in his right leg was calcified.

There were still some great moments in 2020-21, such as his performance in a 3-0 win over Barcelona in the Champions League and in the Super Cup win over Napoli. But he was also responsible for a square ball across his own penalty area, which allowed Benevento to inflict a humiliating home defeat. He was excluded from the Turin derby after he broke COVID-19 rules by eating at teammate Weston McKennie’s house.

Pirlo turned things around and finished fourth, but winning the Super Cup and Coppa Italia was not enough for chairman Andrea Agnelli, who fired the manager and brought Allegri back in May 2021. Arthur underwent surgery to remove the calcification and was out for three months.

On his return, he made just 11 league starts in 2021-22, with Allegri wanting his midfield to be more robust, underlined by the signing of Denis Zakaria. The feeling was that Arthur was slowing down the game too much. There were no give and go to get in the box.

Arthur


Arthur hasn’t played since May (Picture: Getty Images)

Out of favour, his agent started looking for a transfer for him in January and there was serious interest from Arsenal. Earlier this summer there were talks with Valencia and Sporting was also enthusiastic when he weighed his options. But since May, he has stopped playing competitive football.

Some Juventus fans are scratching their heads thinking he can’t be as bad as Klopp and Liverpool want him to be. Did he just not fit Allegri’s style? Did he just not get the best out of him?

Others think he had his chance, didn’t take it, and Juventus’ new midfield with Paul Pogba, Fabio Miretti, Daniel Paredes and Locatelli promises much more.

Anyway, Arthur has played with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has gone from Barcelona to Juventus and to Anfield. He’s not a mug.

The burning question is how quickly can he adapt to the intensity of the Premier League? Can he stay fit and stake a serious claim to stay on Merseyside after this season?

Financially, it’s a low-risk deal for Liverpool, but given the problems in midfield, it’s a deal they desperately need.

(Top photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)


The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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