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2J08J50 Turin, Italy. 16 March 2022. Arthur Melo of Juventus FC in action during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen second leg football match between Juventus FC and Villarreal CF. Credit: Nicolo Campo/Alamy Live News

Arthur Melo to Liverpool: Strengths, weaknesses, style of play

Liverpool look set to sign Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo on a season loan deal on deadline day. We take a closer look at who the player who has earned praise from Messi in the past.

Arthur Melo

Age: 26
Born: Goiânia, Brazil
Height: 5′ 6″
Foot: Right
Positions: Midfield – Deep-lying playmaker
Previous clubs: Gremio, Barcelona, Juventus

 

Strengths

2HC0XDF Turin, Italy. 21 December 2021. Arthur Melo of Juventus FC gestures during the Serie A football match between Juventus FC and Cagliari Calcio. Credit: Nicolo Campo/Alamy Live News

The Brazilian’s strengths are clear: primarily his passing.

A low centre of gravity, quick on the turn, very tidy in possession, able to play forward passes that break the lines and adept at keeping the ball when under pressure.

He is, what the analysts these days call ‘press resistant’ – able to wriggle out of tight spaces and hold off opposition players. His pass accuracy is often highly impressive.

He has a decent shot from the edge of the box, but it’s certainly not a main strength or prolific from distance.

Good positional awareness, able to receive the ball under pressure, beat a man and then play a killer pass. He’s more likely to play the pass before the assist, breaking the lines and playing others in.

He’s very, very similar to Thiago (more on that later) and plays in the same role as the Spaniard. It’s clear that Liverpool have sought a player to be able to rotate with the current No.6.

 

Weaknesses

2J08J50 Turin, Italy. 16 March 2022. Arthur Melo of Juventus FC in action during the UEFA Champions League round of sixteen second leg football match between Juventus FC and Villarreal CF. Credit: Nicolo Campo/Alamy Live News

His strengths aren’t the only thing he has in common with Thiago, with his injury record the main concern.

Some – including Juventus fans on social media – have claimed he’s actually currently injured with an ankle issue, but journalists have scuppered those claims and say he is deemed fit, potentially even for Saturday’s Merseyside derby.

Last season he missed 13 Juventus games due to injury and nine the season before. He managed 31 appearances (all competitions) last season and 32 the season before.

So small, regular niggles. Again, like Thiago.

The other weakness is, according to Juve boss Max Allergi anyway, that he is arguably too comfortable on the ball.

“Sometimes he has to handle himself a little bit more, but he put in a great performance,” Allegri said last season, adding: “He has extraordinary technical abilities.”

Work rate will be a concern, but that’s possibly true of any signing for Jurgen Klopp. Perhaps a loan will ensure he’s keen to make an impression – and resurrect his career / fulfil his undoubted potential.

He is a player in that prime age range where Liverpool lack a midfielder at present. Curtis Jones at 21, the next oldest being Fabinho at 28.

 

Comparisons

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, August 6, 2022: Liverpool's Thiago Alcântara during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

According to an ‘experienced performance analyst’ on Twitter, Athur is “just like Thiago.”

He writes that: “Arthur is one of the cleanest first and second phase passers in the sport. He’s so nimble, so agile, and so good with his passing. The press resistance and the circulatory but also progressive passing is a thing of beauty. His quality will be obvious straight away in a red shirt.”

Others have pointed out the similarities to Thiago too, and that would be sensible as Liverpool need somebody to rotate with and step in when the Spaniard is injured.

Earlier reports suggested Liverpool wanted somebody who can play the ‘Thiago role’ and also the holding midfield role, and Arthur can do both.

Xavi – in the words of Lionel Messi back in 2020 when Arthur signed for Barcelona.

“It surprised me,” Messi said. “The truth is that I did not know him a lot and, saving the similarities and comparisons, the truth is that he seemed [similar] to the style of game of Xavi: the one to want to always the ball, to play short, and not to lose it.”

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