Liverpool’s late move for Juventus’ Arthur Melo: Gap in midfield – The Athletic

Liverpool's late move for Juventus' Arthur Melo: Gap in midfield - The Athletic

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

A few hours earlier, Jurgen Klopp’s side had beat Newcastle United 2-1 courtesy of Fabio CarvalhoAnfield’s dramatic late winner. However, the joy of the manager was softened by the news that captain Jordan Henderson had damaged his popino.

This proved to be the trigger for Liverpool to finally strengthen their depleted midfield section. Klopp, Ward and Fenway Sports Group chairman Mike Gordon were in full agreement. Sitting tight was no longer an option.

Unable to agree a deal for one of their long-term targets and with the transfer deadline fast approaching, Liverpool have finally dealt with what is essentially a stop-gap signing.

The Brazil international arrived on a season-long loan. With the 26-year plus to requirements under Massimiliano Allegri and Juventus eager to get him off their payroll, it wasn’t a hard deal to strike.

Liverpool


Liverpool’s move for Arthur came quickly (Photo: Visionhaus/Getty Images)

Juventus released a statement late on Thursday, revealing that the loan fee for Arthur is €4.5 million and Liverpool will have the option to buy him for €37.5 million next summer. He will have to make an impact to justify such an expense. Earlier in the day sources indicated that the agreement was set to be a direct loan without an option to make the arrangement permanent.

Arthur, who has attracted interest from Valencia and Sporting among others, needed little convincing to make the move to Anfield.

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

Things moved quickly. At 10am on Thursday, Arthur was on a private plane with his agent Federico Pastorello heading from Turin to the UK to undergo his treatment. Despite not featuring for Juventus so far this season, sources close to the player insist he is fit and ready to play.

It is not the strong statement of intent that many supporters were hoping for before the window closed, but it has been clear for some time that the owners were reluctant to spend a significant sum now that Liverpool’s main midfield targets were not available in this window.

It was a hot topic of debate as Liverpool lost Real Madrid in the race to buy deep-lying playmaker Aurelien Tchouameni from Monaco in June. Initially, Klopp ruled out looking for an alternative and was adamant that he was happy to start this season with the options already at his disposal.

Jude Bellingham tops his wish list but Borussia Dortmund never going to sell him this summer already lost Erling Haaland to Manchester City. Liverpool hope to sign the England international valued at £100 million ($115.4m) next year.

An injury crisis has caused Klopp to change his mind about the need to make a signing like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis JonesThiago and Naby Keita all pulled up in quick succession. However, the manager also said publicly that he does not hold the wallet. He insisted that he felt quite supported by the owners, but admitted: “From time to time I would risk a little more, but I don’t decide.”

In the past week, Liverpool have inquired about Austria international Konrad Laimer, who is up to the last year of his contract, but RB Leipzig were reluctant to lose him so close to the deadline.

The situation eased somewhat with Jones returning to the fold this week, but with fears that Henderson would be sidelined until after the international break, Liverpool simply could not sit back and do nothing. Fabinho, Harvey ElliottFabio Carvalho, James MilnerJones and an academic teenager Stefan Bajcetic would have been the only midfielders available.

Henderson


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

They are crying out to cover with an injection of quality and experience, especially as Liverpool face five games in the space of 15 days this month and then nine in the space of 28 days in October.

The last time the club acted in haste towards the end of the transfer window it didn’t pay off. Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies was a cheap pick to help ease a central crisis in January 2021 with an agreement for Ibrahima Konate already in the pipeline for that summer. Neither looked the part with Liverpool deciding not to trigger their option to buy Kabak following his loan from Schalke and Davies leaving for Guardians without ever appearing.

The difference with Arthur, who still has three years to run on his contract at Juventus, is that he has a much bigger pedigree.

Liverpool’s recruitment staff see him as having a similar profile to Thiago. He is technically gifted, press resistant and comfortable in possession.

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

However, his CV is certainly impressive. We’re talking about a player who celebrated Copa Libertadores glory with Gremio in his homeland before sealing a €40m (£34.5m; $39.8m) move to Barcelona in 2018. Lionel Messi compared his style to that of Xavi, saying: “He who always wants the ball, play short, and don’t lose it.”

Arthur won The connection and helped Brazil triumph at the 2019 Copa America. National team boss Tite said: “He always finds the best escape, the best swoon.” After scoring four goals and contributing six assists in 72 games for Barcelona, ​​he moved to Juventus in June 2020.

It was part of an exchange agreement with Miralem Pjanic goes the other way in what was effectively a book-balancing exercise. Juventus agreed to pay €72 million for Arthur over four installments with a possible €10 million to follow in add-ons. Pjanic went the other way for €60 million over four installments with possible add-ons worth €5 million.

Juventus were able to reserve 41.8 million capital gains on Pjanic, but on the pitch it didn’t work out for either club. Arthur boasts one goal and one assist in 63 matches for Juventus.

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

Andrea Pirlo, who was promoted from the under-23s to the senior job, wanted to play Arthur and Manuel Locatelli together in midfield as Italy utilize jorginho and Marco Verratti. However, Juventus were unable to sign Locatelli until the summer of 2021 and Arthur either did not appear to remain fit or last 90 minutes. The membrane between the tibia and fibula bones in his right leg was calcified.

There have still been some bright moments in 2020-21, such as his performance in a 3-0 win away to Barcelona in the Champions League and in the Super Cup win against Napoli. But he was also responsible for a square ball across his own box that enabled Benevento to inflict a humiliating home defeat. He was left out of the squad for the Turin derby after he broke COVID-19 rules by having dinner at team-mate Weston McKennie’s house.

Pirlo turned things around to finish fourth but lifting the Supercoppa and Coppa Italia was not enough for president Andrea Agnelli, who sacked 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 looking to make his midfield more robust, underlined by the signing of Denis Zakaria. The feeling was that Arthur slowed the game down too much. There was no giving and going to enter the box.

Arthur


Arthur has not played since May (Photo: Getty Images)

Without favor, his agent began to look for a move for him in January and there was serious interest from Arsenal. Earlier this summer, there were talks with Valencia and Sporting were also keen as they weighed up their options. But he hasn’t played competitive football since May.

Some Juventus fans are scratching their heads, thinking he can’t be that bad if Klopp and Liverpool want him. Is he just not suited to Allegri’s style? Did he just fail to get the best of him?

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

Anyway, Arthur played with Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He went from Barcelona to Juventus to Anfield. He is not a mug.

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

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

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

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