Following James Milner’s acquisition, Brighton & Hove Albion have turned its attention to former Liverpool player Arthur Melo, aiming to strengthen their midfield options. Following the departure of star performer Alexis MacAllister to Liverpool and the potential sale of Moises Caicedo to Chelsea or Manchester United, Brighton recognizes the need for a midfield revamp and has approached the 26-year-old Brazilian.
Arthur Melo’s stint at Liverpool
Arthur Melo was signed by Liverpool on loan at the end of the transfer window last season as a replacement for Jordan Henderson who suffered a serious injury. While irony struck the Merseyside club as Arthur Melo too spent most of his time with the club plagued with injury. Despite being unable to make a Premier League appearance, he featured for a mere 13 minutes in Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League match against Napoli.
But there is a good player in there, and that surfaces when you breakdown his traits on the ball…
So, What can Brighton fans expect of Arthur Melo?
Arthur is a player of notable intrigue, exhibiting specialisation as a number 8 position player. His role entails facilitating the connection between the defensive and offensive lines, while actively seeking substantial involvement in the overall dynamics of the game.
Additionally, Arthur demonstrates a propensity for frequently gravitating towards the side of the field where the ball is located. Arthur possesses notable attributes that are easily discernible. He exhibits exceptional dribbling skills, characterised by intricate manoeuvres, and consistently displays a deft first touch. Moreover, he excels in assuming the role of a metronome, effectively maintaining possession for his team.
In addition, Arthur serves as a reliable outlet for his teammates, providing them with a secure passing option, particularly in challenging situations. Furthermore, he adeptly recycles play, ensuring continuity and fluidity in the face of opposition pressure. In addition to his proficiency in recycling play and maintaining possession, the underlying statistics indicate that he demonstrates a consistent inclination to distribute the ball into the attacking third.
Furthermore, he exhibits a willingness to attempt penetrating passes, should he observe a forward player initiating a run.
One notable concern in assessing Arthur’s performance is his limited playing time, and relatively low amount of game time raises the possibility that many of his underlying performance indicators may be misleading and may not provide an accurate representation of his skill level or current form.
Let’s commence with an examination of the notable accomplishments attributed to Arthur and evaluating his performance in relation to these achievements during his tenure at Juventus:
Arthur possesses the quintessential attributes of a traditional number 8 player, including exceptional vision, active scanning, a superb first touch, and remarkable dribbling skills, all of which enable him to effectively maintain possession and sustain the flow of the game. The rationale behind Barcelona’s decision to acquire him is comprehensible, considering their affiliation with possession-oriented football and midfielders who excel in distributing a large number of passes.
Melo employs a strategic approach by positioning himself between the central defenders or slightly ahead of them in the left half-spaces. In this position, he seeks to create opportunities by either receiving the ball with his back to the goal or in a position to quickly turn and advance the ball upfield.
Additionally, he aims to bypass opponents by either progressing the ball or successfully dribbling past them in order to overcome the opposition’s pressing tactics. Arthur demonstrates exceptional dribbling skills and possesses remarkable lower body strength, enabling him to effectively dislodge defenders when faced with pressure. Consequently, he becomes a reliable choice to receive passes in such situations.
He exhibits mobility and demonstrates a propensity to strategically navigate the playing field in order to actively participate in the progression of the game.
Although Arthur possesses decent visual acuity, he encounters difficulties in effectively executing long aerial passes, displaying a preference for maintaining ball possession on the ground whenever feasible. Determining whether this phenomenon stems from muscular weakness or is merely a reflexive response or deficiency in his gameplay is challenging.
One of our authors, Aden Ravi – who exquisitely relies on eye test wrote the following to describe Melo during the point of last season when the Brazilian was lined with Arsenal:
“Some smaller details I noticed while watching Arthur play; He has a consistent ground diagonal pass in his repertoire that he uses quite often to link play to attackers dropping in. You can see this during his time at Barcelona playing with Luis Suarez, often Arthur would receive the ball in the left-half space just below or just above the halfway line, assuming he isn’t being pressed, Arthur would take a few touches toward the opposition goal before zipping and perfectly weight ball diagonally across the pitch the aforementioned Suarez who is dropping deep to receive. The quality of these passes and the vision to execute them cannot be overstated and would be a great addition to the Arsenal system which often deploys it’s striker in a deeper, more creative role. Another thing Arthur is great at is losing his defender with a drop of the shoulder, it’s not something I saw a lot in the footage I watched of him at Juventus but, again, it’s something he has in his toolkit and it can be vitally important in breaking lines to spring an attack. Arthur has lost a bit of his explosiveness due to injury in recent years but this skill can still be applicable in certain situations and shows that he has the tools to be very press resistant when he’s at the top of his game.
“Arthur’s weaknesses aren’t as concerning as some on Twitter or in the media may suggest but in regards to his ability to play in the Premier League, they may be exacerbated by a move to England. Firstly, Arthur has been fairly injury-ridden since leaving his boyhood club Grêmio in March 2018, in total he missed 135 days of action due to injury during his time at Barcelona according to Transfermarkt, which amounted to 24 games out. His time at Juventus hasn’t been much better, he’s missed 17 games for the Bianconeri since joining, including a 77 day absence after having surgery done on his right leg. A move to the Premier League will likely not help fix these injury woes as many foreign players and managers alike have called the PL the most physically demanding and brutal league in Europe. Another issue Arthur has is his overall physique, at about 5 foot 6, Arthur is not the most physically imposing player on the pitch, while this may not be a huge issue when playing in a less physical league like La Liga or a less active league like Serie A, it may cause problems for Arthur if he were to join Arsenal in England. While he does possess wonderful lower body strength, this does not guarantee he will be able to fight off tacklers with the same consistency as he does in Serie A for Juventus.
“All of this being said, Arthur Melo is far from washed up or a bad player, he possesses high technical ability, great vision, and has tools to play line-breaking passes. He is also a clever dribbler and at his best, is very hard to press due to his low center of gravity and comfort, turning either way and driving at different angles. Regardless of how his latest transfer saga plays out, there is a place for Arthur somewhere at a top team in Europe, whether that team is Arsenal or Juventus, or neither is a question we may still be pondering long after deadline day.”
Competition for Arthur Melo’s services & Brighton’s interest
Despite his underwhelming spell at Liverpool, Arthur’s contract with Juventus has been extended until 2025, commanding a significant salary of £15 million per year. This presents a potential hurdle for Brighton & Hove Albion, as they face competition from other European clubs vying for Arthur Melo’s services. Moreover, his high valuation also makes him a prospect for the Saudis, who have shown a keen interest in acquiring talent from Italian clubs.
Brighton has already gotten their hands on James Milner and their ambition to secure Arthur Melo’s signature signifies their ambition to strengthen their squad and elevate their performance. While securing Arthur Melo on a permanent transfer may prove challenging due to his hefty paycheck, a loan move is surely on the cards. Brighton’s pursuit of the 26-year-old Brazilian midfielder demonstrates their intent to make strategic moves in the transfer market and enhance their prospects for the upcoming season.