Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward approached Juventus for Arthur Melo just after midnight on Wednesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side beat Newcastle United 2-1 a few hours ago thanks to Fabio Carvalho’s dramatic late winner at Anfield. However, news of captain Jordan Henderson’s hamstring injury dampened the manager’s joy.
This proved to be the trigger for Liverpool to finally strengthen their already depleted midfield. Klopp, Ward and Mike Gordon, president of Fenway Sports Group, fully agree. Sitting still is no longer an option.
Unable to strike a deal on one of their long-term targets, and with the transfer deadline looming, Liverpool eventually pursued what was essentially a stopgap signing.
The Brazil international has been on loan for a season. With Massimiliano Allegri and Juventus eager to get him off the payroll, the 26-year-old has exceeded their demands, so agreeing isn’t a difficult deal.
Juventus revealed in a statement late on Thursday that Arthur’s loan fee is 4.5 million euros and Liverpool will buy him for 37.5 million euros next summer. He will have to make some impact to justify such spending. Earlier in the day, sources had said the deal would be a direct loan, with no option to make the arrangement permanent.
Arthur, who has attracted interest from the likes of Valencia and Sporting, needed little persuasion to move to Anfield.
He knows the Liverpool trio of Alisson, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino well from his national team duties and believes this is the fresh start he needs to revive his career. He is excited about the opportunity to play for Klopp and is desperate to use the stage to get regular action and secure his squad for Brazil’s World Cup squad in Qatar.
Things are moving fast. At 10am on Thursday, Arthur and his agent, Federico Pastorello, flew from Turin to the UK on a private jet for medical examinations. Despite not playing for Juventus so far this season, sources close to the player insist he is fit and ready to play.
It’s not the flourishing statement of intent that many supporters were hoping for before the window was closed, but it’s been clear for some time that the owners are now reluctant to spend a lot of money given Liverpool’s main midfield target is not available in this window.
It has been a hot topic since Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in June to acquire playmaker Aurelian Chuameni from Monaco. Initially, Klopp ruled out looking for an alternative, insisting he was happy to have the options at his disposal at the start of the season.
Jude Bellingham is at the top of his wish list but Borussia Dortmund will never sell him this summer having already lost Erling Haaland to Manchester City. Liverpool are hoping to sign the £100m ($115.4m) England international next year.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Curtis Jones, Thiago and Naby Keita all showing up, the injury crisis has led Klopp to change his mind about the need to sign. However, the manager has also publicly stated that he does not hold the wallet. He insists he feels the owners have enough support, but admits: “Sometimes I take more risks, but I don’t decide.”
Over the past week, Liverpool have inquired about the expiring contract of Austria international Konrad Leimer, but RB Leipzig are reluctant to lose him so close to the deadline.
With Jones returning to action this week, the situation has eased, but Liverpool simply cannot sit idly by amid fears that Henderson will be sidelined ahead of the international break. Fabinho, Xavi Elliott, Fabio Carvalho, James Milner, Jones and academy teenager Stefan Bajcetic will be the only midfielders available.
They desperately need cover infused with quality and experience, especially considering Liverpool face five games in 15 days this month and then nine in 28 days in October.
The club’s rush towards the end of the transfer window last time didn’t pay off. Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies are cheap options to help ease the crisis at centre-back in January 2021, with a deal for Ibrahima Konate already in the works that summer. Neither side showed up after Liverpool decided not to trigger their option to buy Kabac after Kabac was loaned to Rangers from Schalke and Davies.
Unlike Arthur, who has three years left on his contract at Juventus, his pedigree is much higher.
Liverpool recruiters believe his profile is similar to Thiago’s. He’s technically gifted, he’s strong under pressure, and he’s comfortable on the ball.
One criticism of him in Italy is that he touches the ball too much and passes too conservatively. He also has his own injury issues.
However, his resume is truly impressive. We’re talking about a player who celebrated Copa Libertadores glory with Gremio in his hometown before moving to Barcelona for €40m (£34.5m; $39.8m) in 2018. Lionel Messi compared his style to Xavi’s, saying: “A guy who always wants the ball, plays short and doesn’t want to concede it.”
Arthur won La Liga and helped Brazil win the 2019 Copa America. “He always finds the best way to escape, the best way to pass the ball,” said national team coach Tite. After scoring four goals and providing six assists in 72 appearances for Barcelona, he has made his career in 2020. Moved to Juventus in June.
It was part of a swap deal with Miralem Pjanic that was actually a book-balancing exercise. Juventus agreed to pay Arthur 72 million euros in four installments, with a possible additional 10 million euros. Pjanic went the other way for 60 million euros in four installments, with potential add-ons worth 5 million euros.
Juventus were able to make a capital gain of €41.8m from Pjanic, but on the pitch it didn’t work for either club. Arthur has 1 goal and 1 assist in 63 games for Juventus.
Coach Maurizio Sarri was sacked just a month after a Champions League last-16 loss to Lyon, which did not help his adaptation period in Turin, when football was in the fold. recovery during the epidemic.
Andrea Pirlo, who has moved from under-23 to senior level, wants to play Arthur alongside Manuel Locatelli in midfield, as Italy did with Jorginho and Marco Verratti. However, Juventus won’t sign Locatelli until the summer of 2021, and Arthur either doesn’t seem to be able to stay fit or last 90 minutes. Calcification of the membrane between the tibia and fibula of his right leg.
There are still some great moments in the 2020-21 season, such as his performances in the 3-0 away win over Barcelona in the Champions League and Napoli in the Super Cup. But he was also responsible for a square ball in his own box, which brought Benevento to home humiliation. He has been left out of the Turin derby after he broke COVID-19 rules by going to dinner at teammate Weston McKenney’s house.
Pirlo turned things around to finish fourth, but lifting the Super Cup and Coppa Italia wasn’t enough for chairman Andrea Agnelli, who sacked the manager and brought back Allegue in May 2021 inside. Arthur underwent surgery to remove the calcification and was out for three months.
Returning, he will make just 11 league starts in 2021-22, and Allegri wants his midfield to be stronger, as the signing of Denis Zakaria proves. It feels like Arthur is slowing down the game too much. There is no give and go into the box.
Having fallen out of favour, his agent began looking for a move for him in January, with Arsenal showing keen interest. Talks were held with Valencia earlier this summer and Sporting are keen to weigh his options. But he has not played competitive football since May.
Some Juventus fans are scratching their heads thinking he wouldn’t be so bad if Klopp and Liverpool wanted him. Did he just not fit Allegri’s style? Is he just not playing his best?
Others thought he had a chance but didn’t take it, while the new Juventus midfielder comprising Paul Pogba, Fabio Miretti, Daniel Paredes and Locatelli promised more much more.
Either way, Arthur has played alongside Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. He went from Barcelona to Juventus to Anfield. He is not a cup.
The burning question is how quickly can he adapt to the intensity of the Premier League? Can he stay fit and stay on Merseyside beyond the season?
Financially, it’s a low-risk deal for Liverpool, but given the midfield’s problems, it’s something they desperately need to address.
(Above: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)