Arthur Melo has already been linked with a premature return to Juventus after joining Liverpool on loan on transfer deadline day.
Arthur Melo’s Liverpool career is just two weeks’ old. Having not played for Juventus since a substitute appearance in their Coppa Italia defeat to Inter Milan back in May, Jurgen Klopp has, despite a plethora of midfield injuries, understandably not rushed to throw the Brazilian into the heat of battle.
With the Reds’ Premier League outings against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Chelsea postponed following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the 26-year-old has totalled just 13 minutes of action since his deadline day loan move to Anfield. Making his debut as a late substitute in the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Napoli, that maiden outing was sandwiched between unused substitute roles against Everton and Ajax.
While Liverpool possess an option to buy Arthur from Juventus for €37.5m at the end of his loan, two weeks is all it has taken for speculative reports in Italy to claim the Reds have already seen enough from the Brazilian to have no intention of exercising such a clause.
Tuttomercatoweb suggest that Liverpool have already decided that the Brazilian ‘is not at the level that was expected,’ and ‘does not fit the type of player that Klopp was looking for,’ as a result. They also indicate the Reds want to sign a new midfielder in January and, if they succeed, they will terminate Arthur’s loan and send him back to Turin.
Such reports seem premature despite the midfielder’s lack of action so far. After all, while it would be easy to write him off as a last-minute panic-buy in response to midfield injuries, it would also be naively simplistic.
Given his own lack of game-time, injury-record and lack of experience of English football, the Brazilian was never going to be thrown straight into Klopp’s starting XI. If he had been, it would have been counterproductive, given the risk of picking up an injury himself, having been brought in to help aid Liverpool’s growing list of walking wounded.
The 26-year-old’s arrival left Klopp with 10 senior midfielders to choose from to fill three spaces in the Reds’ traditional 4-3-3 system. From that number, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Curtis Jones are all currently sidelined while Thiago Alcantara has only just returned following a month-long setback.
From the remaining quartet, Fabinho and James Milner have hardly been immune to injuries themselves in recent years. And although impressive during the opening weeks of the season, Harvey Elliott is still a teenager who can’t be overplayed and suffered a serious, long-term ankle injury little over a year ago.
Meanwhile, Fabio Carvalho has just turned 20 after his move to Anfield from Fulham this summer, has limited Premier League experience and, like fellow former Cottager Elliott, can’t be overplayed. Throw in the minor knock he suffered in the Merseyside derby earlier this month and it becomes clear why Klopp performed a transfer u-turn to strengthen his ranks further on deadline day.
Admittedly Thiago’s impressive return from injury against Ajax, Henderson’s expected return after the September injury break and the prospect of Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain, if not Jones as well, returning next month could ensure Arthur’s opportunities remain limited. Yet the club’s medical staff would have known all this made Klopp aware of such return dates before a move for the Brazilian was sanctioned.
The fact he was still signed suggests his arrival was more than a desperate knee-jerk reaction. Considering the injury record of the majority of Klopp’s options, there is already enough evidence to demonstrate he is highly unlikely to have all free of setbacks at any one point during the campaign, reiterating the reason behind signing Arthur in the first place.
Now it remains to be seen what Liverpool’s long-term plan for the Juventus loanee exactly is, despite their option to buy him next summer. Never a short-term fix, he is at the very least additional cover for this season. As a result, it is highly unlikely that the Reds have seen enough of him behind the scenes in the space of a fortnight to not only dismiss signing him permanently, but to consider terminating his loan in January.
Make no mistake, the Reds will strengthen their midfield further in 2023 amid ageing stars and expiring contracts. It is plausible a move could be made for a target in January as a result, but it would be premature to suggest any such move would be at the expense of Arthur.
Back in action at home to Brighton & Hove Albion on October 1, Klopp’s men will be in action every weekend and midweek right up until the break for the 2022 World Cup in mid-November. League clashes with the likes of Arsenal, Man City and Tottenham Hotspur all await along with four vital Champions League group games, while the Reds’ League Cup defence will get underway against Derby County in November too.
In action nine times in October alone, they will take to the field 13 times in 43 days ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. It’s clear plenty of rotation is coming for Liverpool in the weeks ahead as they look to challenge on all fronts. With time on the training pitch and recovery time limited too, injuries will follow and Klopp will need everybody available to him.
So when looking at the Reds’ imminent fixtures, Brighton could be as good an outing as any to hand Arthur both a Premier League and Anfield debut. Beyond that, he could be turned to in two clashes with Rangers in the Champions League, given they alternate with mouth-watering domestic meetings with Arsenal and Man City.
Given persistent links with Jude Bellingham, only time will tell if Arthur is still a Liverpool player in 12 months’ time. But either way, it is clear a plan is in place and his Reds career is only just beginning – rather than being over before it’s even begun.