Whilst it certainly appears that Arsenal striker target, Vlahovic has played the Gunners to get a move to Juventus, there may be a slight positive. One by-product might be that Arteta can now land his midfield target Arthur, as the Italian giants will need cash. Arsenal have been heavily linked with the ex-Barcelona midfielder for most of the window, and as the loan deal now seems quite possible, I wanted to closely look at why the deal makes sense.
Certainly, the touted move has had a mixed reaction from the Arsenal fanbase, particularly if Juventus insist on an 18-month loan, rather than a deal to the end of this season. Fans are concerned, after recent loans such as Suarez and Ceballos, have not necessarily proved their worth, as both, like Arthur, were not getting game time at their clubs. It is still a tempting punt for to use free bets from UK Bookmakers though.
However, in the case of Arthur Melo, it is perhaps simply that a managerial change has seen him drop down the midfield pecking order, and that Arteta believes he can rekindle the player who played so well as Barcelona, which gave rise to the absurd £72 million fee Juventus paid. From the player’s perspective, he has a strong motivation to regain his place in the Brazil squad ahead of the World Cup, and Arsenal’s Technical Director, Edu, along with Mikel Arteta, seem to have convinced him that regular football in the Premier League will help his cause.
The question Arsenal fans are pondering is where Arthur might fit, given his arrival might coincide with both Partey and Xhaka being back available. These two where the 4231 platform for the team’s pre-Christmas revival and without them Arsenal have floundered, so if they are both fit and ready, where would Arthur see his needed game time? I think the clue lies in the slight tactical tweak between Partey and Xhaka that saw the Ghanaian more often the deeper of the two. For so long Arsenal fans have felt it was an out an out defensive midfielder required as a long-term partner, able to release the box-to-box Partey, but perhaps Arteta has decided that he will look for a double pivot both able to shield when required and work offensively too.
When Barcelona agreed to sell Arthur, there was considerable surprise as the Brazilian was seen by most as the heir apparent to Busquets. Peak Barca Arthur was always comfortable receiving the ball under pressure in defensive areas, with an intuitive awareness of the pass he would play on receipt. From and Arsenal perspective, think latter day Cazorla perhaps. He excelled at receiving the ball on the half turn and playing it simply and efficiently to and advancing fullback or his winger. It is this efficiency that is required at Arsenal, with a platform for accurate and swift progression, so lacking in recent weeks.
Whilst right-footed naturally Arthur often played on the left of a midfield three, so could easily slot into Xhaka’s berth, but equally cover Partey. Where he perhaps lacks the composure of Xhaka is the longer incisive ball to launch an attack, but perhaps Arteta can encourage this with the confidence of regular football. If, however, as I suspect it will be Partey predominantly sitting, then Arthur’s attacking prowess will come to the fore. His quick feet, ball retention and eye for a clipped pass around the corner, or a swift one two in the box, are again reminiscent of peak Cazorla or even Wilshere.
Both at Barcelona and Juventus, Arthur has mostly played in a three-man midfield, and whilst I see him partnering in a double pivot for Arteta, this will give the Spaniard the option of a 433, which many feel he would dearly love to try. For me, the 433 means a negation of Odegaard which I am loath to see, and I feel that should Arthur arrive on loan, it will give Arteta a chance to see if he can be the long-term partner for Thomas Partey and a Xhaka replacement.
Xhaka, whilst valuable to Arteta, has also cost his team with recent ill-discipline and errors and at 29 is way out of sync with the age profile of the squad. However, to lose his experience, with Lacazette and Aubameyang also leaving, would leave the squad with very little maturity and know-how. At 25 having played for two of the world’s biggest teams, Arthur Melo will hopefully add to this young team and of course, add a further role model for Sambi Lokonga, who we must not forget. All-in-all, a foursome of Partey, Arthur, Xhaka and Lokonga has a strong feel for the run in, and if the Brazilian gels, he could be a valuable addition as Arsenal shoot for the top four.
This is an edited version of yesterday’s original for Sun Football.
Passionate fifty-something Arsenal supporter who has been making the journey to N5 regularly since the early 1980s – although his first game was in 1976. Always passionate when talking about The Arsenal, Dave decided to send a guest blog to Gunnersphere in the summer of 2011 and has not stopped writing about the Gunners since.
He set up his own site – 1 Nil Down 2 One Up – in February 2012, which he moved on in 2016 to concentrate on freelance writing and building Gunners Town, which he launched with Paul in 2014.
The objective of GT was to be new and fresh and to give a platform for likeminded passionate Arsenal fans wishing to write about their team. Dave still of course, writes for the site himself and advises the ever-changing writing crew.