When Liverpool signed Arthur Melo on transfer deadline day, few thought the Reds were getting a man who would slot immediately into the first team and stay there forever.
As far as Jurgen Klopp signings go, the Brazilian was more Ozan Kabak than Luis Diaz: a player whose arrival was borne out of necessity more than opportunity. Klopp essentially admitted this much himself when changing his position regarding the need for midfield reinforcements.
“I know we have had this discussion since it all started and I am the one who said we don’t need a midfielder and you were all right and I was wrong,” the manager said, just a few days before signing Arthur on loan from Juventus. Now, as questions begin to be asked about the midfielder’s longevity, he has a chance to fill a role which no one needs to lie about the extent of.
When Arthur signed, there was a natural question mark over his match fitness. This was, after all, a man who had not played a minute of first team football since May.
Getting into the rhythm of regular games in England would be tough, but doing so for Liverpool would be even tougher. The intensity of Klopp’s team is something which even its regulars have taken some time adjusting to – Andy Robertson famously vomited on his first day – and it’s rare for any new player to be parachuted in and hit the ground running.
Postponements have meant Arthur’s opportunities have been limited, with the former Barcelona man being restricted to just 13 minutes off the bench in a Champions League defeat at Napoli. However, the lack of available football could be a blessing in disguise.
What are you expecting from Arthur at Liverpool? Have your say in the comments section
“Arthur needs now just football – and training, especially, that’s how it is,” Klopp said. “He wasn’t in team training for a while at Juve, so he needs proper team training – and that’s what we are doing with him.
“Can he play minutes? Yes. Should he play a full game? No, because he needs to get used to the intensity in each competition.”
The manager’s comments come amid suggestions Liverpool could cut short a loan move which was prompted by an injury to captain Jordan Henderson. Indeed, it may be the case that the Reds are better-stocked in midfield by January.
Before then, though, Arthur has been taking every chance possible to get up to speed. And, according to The Mail, this means double sessions on the training ground, extra time in the gym, and even requests to get match practice with Liverpool’s under-21s.
AFP via Getty Images)
It’s rare that we see too many £63m players in Premier League 2, but that’s what happened on Saturday. With Liverpool’s league game against Chelsea postponed, there was a chance for some members of the first-team squad to earn minutes for the under-21s against Leicester City.
Arthur was joined by Fabio Carvalho and Nat Phillips in the starting line-up, and reportedly gave a good account of himself in his first 90-minute run-out since a Juventus win against Cagliari back in April. Ironically, though, that match practice comes at a moment when he won’t be needed as urgently by Klopp.
Liverpool are welcoming back some of their injured players, most notably Thiago. The Spanish international returned from five games out when he came off the bench against Napoli, and a start against Ajax on September 13 was his first in more than a month.
Arthur won’t need to start as many games with Thiago back in the fold, and won’t even be expected to do so. However, what he does need to do is show he’s available when called upon and that seems something he is intent on proving.
With a packed schedule – one made even more packed when Liverpool attempt to fit in the rearranged league games against Chelsea and Wolverhampton Wanderers – Klopp will need to manage the minutes of all his squad members to keep his team competitive.
If Arthur isn’t deemed ready to step in during smaller games, either in domestic cups or league and European outings during those testing three-game weeks, then it’ll be hard to justify him being there. With the extra minutes and the work behind the scenes, though, he’ll want to show he can be trusted to perform the tasks he was brought in to perform.