A new rising sensation emerges with every new season in the Brazilian league, this time it is Grêmio’s new ‘King’ Arthur
With Tite putting faith in the 21-year old and handing Arthur his first call-up for the national team, for the final two World Cup qualifying games against Bolivia and Chile, the faith of football hipsters in their beloved young creative midfielder has gained the highest possible recognition.
Led by former Brazil international Renato Gaúcho, Grêmio have been one of the most interesting sides in 2017. The Rio Grande do Sul giants reached the semi-finals of the Copa do Brasil, where they were dramatically knocked out by Cruzeiro on penalties despite having emerged victorious in the first leg. In addition to that, Renato’s men are the only side realistically still in the hunt for the title race with Corinthians, if we consider the fact that Santos lack depth and may not retain the same intensity towards December. However, it is in the Copa Libertadores where Grêmio have impressed the most, after reaching the semi-final phase.
Against compatriots Botafogo in the quarter final, Grêmio needed something special to qualify, and it is then where Arthur came up with mouthwatering moments of brilliance. Tite, who attended the game less than 36 hours before revealing his latest call-up, was left with no doubt as he woke up in the following day.
As a matter of fact, Arthur has been nothing short of spectacular throughout the whole campaign. The youngster, who initially took advantage of Michel’s injury to gain playing time, is no longer an alternative, but rather a key figure in arguably the most attractive local squad around.
Arthur is regarded as a rare gem in Brazilian football. Deep-lying midfielders in his position are usually referred to as “volantes”, but as opposed to Europe, their essential role is to offer protection to the back-line, to recover possession and to make long runs in case they had the characteristics of a box-to-box midfielder.
But Arthur is the European Brazilian, or, in more pleasant words, he is the reincarnation of the typical Brazilian midfielder that the world has witnessed from the fifties till the eighties: elegant on the ball, technically sound, capable of retaining possession and not panicking under pressure, audacious and innovative enough to improvise in his game with intelligent creative passes.
Arthur is stylistically often compared to Spain international Andrès Iniesta. But he remains a “volante”, nonetheless, and since the main characteristic of a Brazilian player in this position – in modern times – is to be defensively strong, the 21-year-old’s remarkable technical abilities do not prevent him from being a hard-worker, i.e someone capable of doing the dirty work whenever required.
This combination of attributes makes Arthur a balanced midfielder. Don’t let his small stature fool you, he is just as capable of tackling your best striker down, as any other defensive midfielder in Brazil, is.
Adenor Bacchi’s latest call-up signaled good news for the football purists in Brazil. Arthur is reminiscent of past Brazilian greats such as Gérson, Sócrates, Rivelino and Falcão. But the youngster still has a very long way before reaching their achievements and matching their legacy at the Seleção. Whether he can live up to the hype, remains to be seen.