Barcelona have finally bagged their King Arthur as part of a midfield rebuild at the Camp Nou, but is the Brazilian the right fit for their round table?
Barcelona have completed the signing of highly-rated Grêmio star Arthur for around $38 million. With the departures of Paulinho and Andrès Iniesta to Chinese and Japanese football respectively, the 21-year-old has a golden opportunity to gain precious game-time in the midfield of the La Liga champions. The Brazil international has got the talent to turn into one of the world’s finest deep-lying midfielders.
Arthur Melo was Grêmio’s best player in 2017, in a season where the Brazilian team dominated the South American continent by claiming the Copa Libertadores final – in a tie where he was voted as the best player in the final. The team seemed lost without their injured creative midfield maestro in the FIFA Club World Cup, as they struggled in games against both Pachuca and Real Madrid.
Arthur has often drawn comparisons during his time in Brazil with former Barça greats such as Xavi Hernandez and Andrès Iniesta. In his ability to sit deep and dictate play, he is close to Xavi, whereas when he spins around himself to retain ball-possession against an opponent who presses him, his skills are usually reminiscent of Don Andrès.
It is not a surprise that the champions of Spain have placed their faith in the youngster, after insisting on the Brazilian club that the signing is completed in the summer window rather than waiting until January – which would be mid-season in Europe, and make it harder for the player to adapt and be useful. Whereas this way, Arthur is set to have a proper pre-season with his new club, and with a bit of luck in extra game-time, he could possibly be the beautiful surprise and cement himself as an important player right from the off.
The technical quality of Arthur makes him superior to other midfielders in South America, but his work-rate in terms of chasing the ball and tackling the opponent are not to be taken lightly, as he has shown time and time again that he is not shy of going into challenges when necessary. For a player who plays in a deep role in European football, it is necessary to have some defensive skills – or at least, a work-engine always filled with energy.
Brazil boss Tite was close to including Arthur in his World Cup squad, but a series of injuries hindered the rising star’s preparations, which meant that new Manchester United signing Fred, who was in better physical shape at that time, would make the cut ahead of him. But everything hints that Arthur, alongside Flamengo star Lucas Paqueta, will be part of the contingent that leads the Brazilian midfield revolution in the build-up for Copa América 2019, on home soil.
Barcelona can be happy that they have signed the most promising midfield talent in South America, who is still young enough to learn the characteristics of the style of play of the Catalans, and is capable in theory of serving them for years to come. He’s got everything to impose himself as a key figure in Spain, which would then result in helping the national team benefit from his partnership with Philippe Coutinho.