Arthur Melo was regarded as the next Xavi and Andres Iniesta when he started playing in Barcelona and in Barca he was living up to the expectations. But these days, the deserving players are not given enough respect, rather, they are humiliated and Arthur received such – for which he left for Turin and joined Juventus.
The life of Arthur in Juventus is gradually becoming better under the new manager Andrea Pirlo. Pirlo is giving him the playing time accordingly and giving him the time and environment to flourish more and more.
Recently, Arthur spoke to Marca.
Here are the excerpts:
What a performance Juve had against Barcelona…
Well, yes. We all studied Barcelona a lot. It’s to the credit of the staff, who spent a lot of time analyzing Barcelona and showed us their weaknesses and strengths. We studied them in the days before and we already knew what was going to happen in the match.
Barcelona always play looking for the goal; we all know that. They go forward and leave spaces behind, it’s normal. If you attack with seven or eight players you prioritize the offensive part and forget about the defensive one, we knew that we were going to have some counter-attacks. They were things that we analyzed and studied.
Were you asked for your opinion before the match?
Yes, I told them that they are a very high-quality team and that they would have more possession than us. I also told them that we would have to suffer at some point during the game. But the credit goes to the staff who did a great analysis of the opponent.
Did you really think you would succeed?
We wanted first place in the group and we needed three goals. We believed in it even though we knew it was difficult, but whenever Juve set a goal they knew that there is the quality in the squad to achieve it. We played with our heads very focused on first spot.
Were you surprised by such a weak Barcelona?
They didn’t play a good game, but they have quality and at times we suffered. We were stronger mentally.
What was the difference from Juventus’ 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in Turin?
Our mentality was different. We knew that if we played one-on-one with Barcelona we could do it. We had more intensity, especially in the first 30 minutes.
We played with great pressing, knowing how to defend and suffer with two lines of four behind and going on the counter-attack. We studied our opponents a lot and knew exactly what to do. We went in mentally strong; that change of mindset was the key.
Have you digested your departure from Barcelona yet?
There was more noise than I would have liked. Once I knew I was going to leave, I wanted to do things right. Barcelona had given me a lot. It was the club that opened the doors of Europe to me, a dream I had since I was a child – a club with a great history and a great history of Brazilian footballers.
Did they misbehave with you?
I don’t know, that’s always subjective and I’m sure they think so. It’s hard to talk. I have my version, my story, and I would have liked some things to have been different, but equally, for them, everything was as it should be.
And they will surely believe that they should have done things the way they did. But it’s over now. Now I have come to a great club to meet serious people in the direction that delivers me many things.
Were you disrespected when they stopped including you once you signed for Juve?
I don’t know, it’s hard to comment on that. It’s already happened and I’m left with all the good things that happened at Barcelona, a club where I felt very loved by all the people and the truth is that now I want to look forward by learning from everyone’s mistakes.
You are privileged to have shared a dressing room with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Neymar. What would you highlight about them?
Well, talent comes first, although everyone knows they have it. It’s like that; they are the three most talented footballers I shared a dressing room with. But what the three of them have in their heads is an incredible winning mentality.
They set a goal, they work for it, they think they can do it and they leave their life out on the pitch to achieve it. They are not content with little. They always want more. They score one goal and want another; they score two and want three, and then the fourth… It impresses me because they never lower their level or their concentration.
What surprised you about Cristiano Ronaldo?
The way he works. I already knew that because people talk; the world of football is small and they tell you about it. They tell you what he does, but when you see him up close it’s impressive.
There are days when we arrive at two in the morning because we have played late and he starts training. Who does that? Cristiano. I joke and tell him he’s sick, but what are you going to say to someone who has so many Ballon d’Ors? Mentally he is very strong.
What does he say to you?
Cristiano is a great guy. Since I arrived he has helped me a lot because we speak the same language. He’s always around and helps me, for example with things I haven’t understood. He even tells me what to eat.
That I shouldn’t eat this, that I could eat that. He cares about others, always trying to help and contribute something. I’ve been very lucky with Cristiano and with all of the dressing room, they’re very good people.
What do you think of the situation Messi experienced when he wanted to leave Barcelona?
With what Leo has been for Barcelona, being their star, arriving at a young age, with his career, his history… I’m not surprised that he wants to leave, but I am surprised by the lack of respect they have had for Leo. Now, if he wants to leave or not it is his choice.
How have you adapted to Juve and Italian football?
Very well, in fact!
I had a dressing room with a lot of quality and experience. They always help me. They have welcomed me very well and I am very happy.
Although you were already coming from a dressing room like Barcelona’s, were you impressed when you entered another one with Cristiano, Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini…?
When I arrived at Barcelona the same thing happened to me. I met players I had only played with on the PlayStation and now I had them in front of me: Cristiano, Buffon, [Leonardo] Bonucci and Chiellini, they are all legends.
Who do you get along with best?
Choosing one is difficult. Look at the luck I had: Danilo and Alex Sandro, two Brazilians from the national team I already knew; [Paulo] Dybala speaks Spanish, like [Rodrigo] Bentancur and [Alvaro] Morata; with Cristiano, Portuguese; I was able to get in by talking to one and the other.
And then there are the veterans who represent the Italian mentality. All of them are very serious and work hard.
What differences have you noticed in the style of play?
Everything is different. They are two different styles. Juve have more intensity, they play with more crosses into the area; Barcelona touch the ball more and have more control of the game and the match. They are two different styles in two winning teams that have each won many trophies with their style.
Do you train more at Juventus?
It’s a different mentality. Here the physical part is very important, you do gym work, also a lot of tactics… They train a lot, more than Barcelona, but also much more than other teams. It’s the culture here.
Is there much difference between Serie A and LaLiga?
They are very similar. What changes is the Italian style of play. Here, when many teams score they’ll go to a five-man defence.
They play long balls, crosses into the area. It is an Italian mentality that changes with respect to the Spanish, but both are very difficult leagues.
How did this change go?
At first, I suffered a little when I arrived because the way of playing is different. I was lucky enough to meet a coach [Andrea Pirlo] who played in the same position as me. He helps me and tells me what to do and what not to do. He has a lot of experience, so I have no choice but to lower my head and listen to him.
What does Pirlo say?
It’s about how to play. Sometimes we do it with two in the middle and sometimes with three. As we do it, we change some things. Sometimes we go in more on the wings, sometimes with long passes or a little control. He explains very well what he wants and he reads the opponent very well.
How are you coping with playing without a crowd?
It is terrible. Without a crowd, you can’t hear anything but silence…