Who is Arthur Melo? Juventus outcast can be ‘new Xavi’ at Arsenal

Carlo Garganese
Arthur Melo, Juventus, 2021/22

Arthur Melo has emerged as Arsenal’s primary midfield transfer target in January.

The Brazilian is available for sale this January, with Juventus trying to raise funds for their own transfer activity.

So what do we know about the former Barcelona man?

Premier League 2021/22 January transfers: All the completed deals

What position does Arthur Melo play in?

Arthur plays as a central midfielder. At Juventus he has been deployed in a number of central midfield roles, but mostly as the ‘regista’ – the deep-lying playmaker.

At Barcelona, he was also used in front of the back four on occasion but the presence of Sergio Busquets meant that he was often employed as a right or left central midfielder in a three.

How good is Arthur Melo?

Arthur is a player who has divided critics ever since he moved to Europe in the summer of 2018.

He joined Barcelona from Gremio for a fee of €40 million and was immediately hailed as the ‘new Xavi’.

The Brazilian shares many of the best characteristics that the current Barca boss did as a player. He has a fantastic short passing game and is brilliant at breaking the first line of the opposition press. Arthur has wonderful close ball control and excels at keeping possession and dominating the ball and territory.

However, he has been criticised for playing sterile football. He contributes very little in terms of goals or assists. He has only five goals in four seasons in Europe and just six assists in that time. He’s not the man for the killer final pass or shot.

He also is not the strongest from a defensive point of view. Although he is quick over five metres, he is not the fastest at covering large distances and his tackling is average.

After losing his way at Barcelona he moved to Juventus in the summer of 2020 in a controversial swap deal which saw Miralem Pjanic go the other way. Barcelona fans were furious about the swap as they believed that Arthur had the potential to become a world-class player.

Unfortunately, things just have not worked out for Arthur in Turin. Although he has struggled with some fitness problems, he has been horrendously mismanaged from day one.

This has especially been the case under Max Allegri this season. Allegri made it clear from day one that he simply didn’t fancy Arthur, something which the player’s agent Federico Pastorello recently revealed. As a result, Arthur has been afforded very few opportunities to shine.

He has started just four games in all competitions in 2021-22 and when he has played he has naturally been short on match fitness or rhythm.

Arthur is a player who needs the right coach and the right teammates around him in order to shine. If you play him under a modern coach who demands his central midfielders and team to control and dominate possession with short passing, then there are few players in Europe more suitable or with more potential than Arthur.

If the Brazilian has players around him who are just as capable at playing short passes, one-twos and little triangles, then he will shine. If you stuck him in the Italy national team midfield or in Pep Guardiola’s Man City side, he would be an elite performer.

This will be the key for Mikel Arteta if he does successfully bring Arthur to Arsenal.

Mikel Arteta is building an exciting young Arsenal team

Mikel Arteta is building an exciting young Arsenal team

But if you use Arthur like Allegri has then he will fail. A manager who doesn’t play modern football, doesn’t coach or ask his players to play a short-passing game and prefers a safety-first defensive, counter-attacking approach with physical midfielders who are uncomfortable in possession - like Weston McKennie and Adrien Rabiot.

There is a top player there in Arthur Melo. It is all about unlocking that talent and providing it with an environment to thrive.

Which clubs are interested in Arthur Melo?

Multiple top transfer journalists in England and Italy reported on Wednesday that Arsenal have made a move to sign Arthur on an initial loan deal in January, with either an option or obligation to buy in the summer.

The talks are not advanced yet but Juventus are willing to sell the player this month as he is not in Allegri’s plans and the club need to cut costs and raise money to bring players in.

Juventus are in the market for a central midfielder and a forward to replace the injured Federico Chiesa, who suffered an ACL tear on Sunday against Roma.

Juventus need to raise funds to buy a replacement for injured Chiesa

Juventus need to raise funds to buy a replacement for injured Chiesa

Arsenal have made the signing of a central midfielder a priority this month also, with Arteta publicly confirming this.

The Gunners’ transfer chief Edu is understood to be a big favourite of his Brazilian compatriot Melo.

The financial side of any potential transfer fee will need to be agreed though. Juventus signed the player for a hefty €72m plus €10m in variables 18 months ago.

The amortised value of the player is still very high so Juventus will require a big fee to avoid making a capital loss. That could prove to be a sticking point over a permanent transfer.

Sevilla are also interested in the player.

Arthur is desperate to leave Juventus and feels let down by the way he has been treated. His agent Pastorello is actively looking for a new club for him.

When does Arthur Melo’s contract expire?

Arthur’s contract at Juventus expires on June 30, 2025

How old is Arthur Melo?

Arthur was born on 12 August, 1996. He is 25.

What is Arthur Melo’s height?

Arthur is 171cm, or around 5ft 7in.

What is Arthur Melo’s weight?

Arthur weighs 73 kilograms, or around 11st 5lb.

What football boots does Arthur Melo wear?

Arthur wears Adidas Predator Freak+ soccer cleats.

What is Arthur Melo’s Instagram?

Arthur’s Instagram has 5.1m followers as of January 2022.