Liverpool prepare to face Wolves in the Premier League and Arthur Melo may be included in the squad after an appearance for the under-21s.
Not for the first time this season, Jurgen Klopp heads back to the drawing board as he searches for Liverpool solutions.
The Reds boss is all too aware that his side are running out of time if they’re to finish in the Premier League top four.
A 0-0 draw at Crystal Palace last weekend meant that Liverpool failed to inch closer to the Champions League places. The majority who featured were lustless with the midfield, yet again, proving a significant concern.
Naby Keita was hooked off at half-time while Jordan Henderson and James Milner – aged 32 and 37 respectively – toiled to no avail in the engine room. Klopp’s side dropped points for the 13th time in 23 league games. With 15 fixtures remaining, there’s going to be little margin for error if the Reds are to miraculously secure a berth in the top four – starting against Wolves at Anfield on Wednesday.
There was, at least, one positive that occurred closer to home. At the AXA Training Centre, hours before kick-off in south London, Arthur Melo made a return to action for the under-21s.
It was the Brazil international’s third appearance for the young Reds – triple the number of outings he’s made for Klopp’s side. Arthur was signed on a season-long loan from Juventus on summer transfer deadline day. Fenway Sports Group parted ways with a €4.5 million fee for his services, along with wage contributions, to help amid a midfield crisis. While he wasn’t the high-profile name Kopites had clamoured for – Jude Bellingham the main one – Arthur did at least bolster competition.
Yet, to date, Arthur has managed just one 13-minute substitute cameo in a humbling 4-1 loss against Napoli in the Champions League. Two outings for Barry Lewtas’ under-21s – against Rochdale in the EFL Trophy and Leicester in Premier League 2 – were designed for Arthur to build fitness and make himself a viable option for Klopp to use in the middle of the park. But a thigh injury the 25-year-old suffered not only consigned him to the treatment table but he was forced to go under the knife in October.
It’s no doubt been a difficult period for Arthur. Having been determined to make an impression at Anfield, he instead found himself unavailable in a country he initially did not speak the native tongue.
Arthur, capped 22 times for Brazil, has been in training for several weeks but has not been included in a match-day squad. Yet after 90 minutes in a thumping 7-1 victory over Leicester City’s youngsters, he may be closing in on a possible reintroduction to Klopp’s squad.
When Arthur was signed, a regular starting role was unlikely to have been earmarked. At the time, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were unavailable due to injury while Curtis Jones had also been suffering with a tibia complaint.
Outings from the bench or a start here and there when respite was needed is likely what Klopp had in mind for Arthur. But given Liverpool’s persistent struggles in midfield, there indeed is an opportunity for Arthur to take should he make an impression. For the visit of Wolves, it will be intriguing if he is indeed named in Liverpool’s set-up.