Premier League • England

Arthur Melo ‘not the answer’ as Jamie Carragher gives verdict on new Liverpool signing

Arthur Melo during a warm up with Juventus

Jamie Carragher does not believe Arthur Melo will be the answer to Liverpool’s midfield problems, but he believes the Brazilian’s arrival is a “sensible” move.

News of a deal for Arthur only emerged on Thursday morning and by lunchtime the midfielder was heading to Liverpool from Turin. It’s a transfer, that on the face of it, moved quickly, but the Reds had to act after Jordan Henderson’s injury.

Henderson picked up a hamstring injury against Newcastle and faces a spell out. He will join the likes of Thiago, Naby Keita, Curtis Jones, Diogo Jota and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the sidelines.

Klopp described the blow as “absolutely not helpful” and it may well have been deciding factor that saw Klopp push for Arthur.

The Juventus man has arrived on a loan until the end of the season, but the Reds do have an option to buy. The Serie A club let that clause slip with Liverpool agreeing to a buy option set at £32.5m.

That will come into effect after the conclusion of the season.

Liverpool have also agreed a £4m loan fee and they will pay the majority of  the 26-year-old’s £80,000-a-week wages.

Carragher believes Arthur will be a good stop-gap signing and similar to the deal they struck with Ibrahima Konate last summer.

Arthur a stop-gap signing

“I don’t think Arthur is the answer to what Liverpool will need in the next three or four years; they need a younger, more energetic kind of player,” Carragher told Sky Sports News. “But I think Arthur is in just to fill a space, that is why Liverpool have bought him late and on loan.

“It smacks a little bit of what Liverpool did 18 months ago when they had lots of centre-backs injured and they didn’t buy anyone they brought in players on loan to have a look at them. Liverpool didn’t buy those players and went on to sign Ibrahima Konate in the summer.

“The actual midfield player they want is not available right now, so I think bringing someone in on loan is sensible.”

Carragher expects Liverpool to spend big on a midfielder next year – with Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham likely their main target – but he reckons they could need to sign more than one first team player in that position and they could have done some of that business this summer.

“You can look at the funds other clubs have spent, and at times that does frustrate Liverpool supporters. All fans are the same, we all get excited by a transfer, but there is no point signing players you don’t need,” said Carragher.

More midfielders needed

“Liverpool needed a striker and spent big on a striker. Liverpool needed a midfield player but the player they wanted was not available. The question is should they have gone for someone else?

“Yes, there is an argument that next season – with age and injuries – they will need more than one midfielder. It’s the one area you can question Liverpool.

“Yes, they are not panicking, but they could be in the market for two or three midfield players – could they have brought one of them in now? Midfielders are going to be the major shake-up in the next 12 months for Liverpool.”

The Arthur deal does seem a pretty low-risk transfer from Liverpool’s perspective.

If he underperforms, the deal will have cost them £4m, while if he excels they will have first option to purchase the former Barcelona man. And at half the £66m price that Juve paid for him in the summer of 2020.

Low-risk transfer?

However, his injury record will be the biggest concern for Klopp.

As Sky Sports point out, injuries “have been a persistent issue for Arthur”. A factor which Klopp will be hoping he can rectify at Kirkby. The last thing Klopp will want is to get another midfielder persistently in the treatment room.

But Liverpool’s high-pressing style is unforgiving and Arthur has not featured at all for Juventus this season. In fact he has not played a single minute of competitive action since the Coppa Italia final defeat to Inter Milan four months ago.

And Arthur’s percentage of league games started has been declining over the last few years. In 2018/19 he started 50% of league games available to him, but last season he started only 29% of Serie A games.

Arthur has never started more than 19 league games in a league season in Europe. That will hardly be music to the ears of Klopp, but he will be well aware of that record. So don’t expect to see Athur just yet, he may need a few weeks to get up to speed.