Arthur has gone from strength to strength since making the move from Grêmio in his home country of Brazil to Barcelona in the summer of 2018 and is now living up to the comparisons between him and Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez.
On 11 March 2018, Barcelona reached an agreement with Grêmio for the transfer of Arthur and paid €31m plus €9m in added variables. Arthur signed a six-year contract and was officially announced as a Barcelona player on 9 July 2018.
Arthur was one of the signings of last season in La Liga and even in the Champions League, getting named in the Breakout squad of the tournament especially after his impressive performance at Wembley against Tottenham which helped Barcelona finally get a win at the and drew lots of praise for his performances, leading to his selection for the Brazil Copa America squad, where he played a big role in their triumph.
Arthur first endeared himself to Barcelona fans in the 1-1 draw versus Valencia at the Mestalla stadium in La Liga on 7 October 2018, where he put in a shift that was very reminiscent of Barcelona legend Xavi. He also almost equalled the Spaniard’s record for most passes in a La Liga game, while pulling strings from the midfield for Barcelona, in a match they were unfortunate not to win.
142 – Arthur Melo attempted 142 passes against Valencia, the most by a player in a La Liga away game since Xavi Hernandez vs Levante in November 2012 (148). Reference. pic.twitter.com/jYspVgc28f
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) October 7, 2018
Later that same month on the 28th, Arthur made his El Clasico debut in Barcelona’s 5-1 thrashing of Real Madrid at the Camp Nou, and the Xavi comparisons became louder after a strong performance in which he bossed the midfield against a Madrid midfield consisting of Luka Modrić and Toni Kroos.
Arthur has not slowed down since then with Barcelona however, but on some occasions, it seemed like the Xavi comparisons were a bit much.
At the start of the 2019/20 season, it felt like Arthur was going to lose his place in the team, as Ernesto Valverde moved Sergi Roberto back into the middle of the park from the right-back position which he has occupied for some time now in the Barcelona set up. However, he was eased back into the squad and from recent matches, the comparisons look more genuine than ever and he is beginning to live up to the “next Xavi” tag he has been given by fans and players of the club alike, including Lionel Messi.
Arthur is a three-dimensional midfielder whose 360-degree movement creates a zone around him that allows him to control the ball without fear of being dispossessed, as well as see openings for a good pass. He is a very good dribbler and one of his favourite moves is the move patented by Xavi, the “La Pelopina” feint/dummy, which he uses to great effect. His contribution to Barcelona’s defence and attack is very impressive because of his press resistance. This means he is one of those who are almost always on the ball in the Barcelona squad because he can hold on to the ball very well. This, coupled with his passing ability, helps him frustrate opponents and provide assists and pre-assists.
Although Arthur never saw the insides of the La Masia training facilities in Barcelona, he possesses many playing styles and techniques that are ingrained into Barcelona-produced footballers at a young age. Xavi, now coach of Al-Saad in Qatar, gave credence to the comparisons between Arthur and himself when he spoke to Catalunya Radio in October 2018, just a few months after Arthur debuted for Barcelona.
VÍDEO. Què opina Xavi sobre Arthur? Aquest dimecres no et perdis la conversa amb @RTorquemada al ‘Parlem de futbol amb…’
Escolta la primera part de l’entrevista a @latdt del Cultural Leonesa a partir de les 20.30h a @catalunyaradio! pic.twitter.com/cCXvnjxAuQ
— LaTdT (@LaTdT) October 30, 2018
Xavi reaffirmed this belief in Arthur’s playing style in another interview to Super Deportivo de Villa Trinidad via Sport, stating that “Arthur can mark an era at Barcelona.”
At 23-years old, Arthur has a large window to not only be the next Xavi but exceed expectations and create his own persona in football, as Barcelona benefits from his talents and he gives joy to the fans.