Premier League • England

Liverpool ‘closing in’ on top-class Bundesliga midfielder as pundit makes prediction on Arthur signing

Jude Bellingham and Konrad Laimer

A pundit thinks Arthur Melo is just a temporary midfield fix as Liverpool cast their eye towards the signing of Jude Bellingham for next summer.

Arthur will bolster Jurgen Klopp’s midfield options for the current campaign after joining Liverpool on loan from Juventus. The deal went through on transfer deadline day. Liverpool have the option to sign him permanently for £32.3m (€37.5m) at the end of the season, should he impress.

After being given a work permit in time, Arthur made the Liverpool squad for Saturday’s 0-0 draw with rivals Everton.

He didn’t get his debut in that match, though he could feature when the Reds come up against Napoli in the Champions League on Wednesday night.

According to a recent report from the Liverpool Echo, Klopp’s team made enquiries about three other midfielders before deciding on Arthur. They were Douglas Luiz, Ruben Neves and Moises Caicedo.

However, none of their current clubs were willing to negotiate an exit, forcing Liverpool to enter talks with Juve for Arthur.

Former Leeds United and Middlesbrough player Noel Whelan reckons the Brazilian is a stop-gap as Liverpool aim to bring in Bellingham in 2023.

“It suggests to me that Liverpool are closing in on what would be the sensational signing of Jude Bellingham,” Whelan said during an interview with Football Insider.

Pundit talks Arthur Melo, Jude Bellingham futures

“Arthur is a good player, and he was available after losing his place at Juventus. But he is not the long-term answer for Klopp.

“It’s a temporary deal to tide him over until he gets the midfielder he really want, which is obviously Bellingham.

“It’s clear Liverpool need a dynamic young midfielder who can replace Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Thiago [Alcantara], who have all been great players for them.

“Bellingham fits the bill perfectly. He is already a top-class player and he will get even better as he becomes more experienced.

“I’m expecting to see him in a Liverpool shirt at some point next year.”

Arthur is 26 years old, which means he is heading towards his prime. However, he has had an underwhelming spell at Juve since joining the club in 2020.

He only made 20 Serie A appearances for them last season. This means Liverpool may have to work on his fitness before he can have a big impact at Anfield.

Arthur is clearly a good player, who has both international and Champions League experience.

However, it could be argued Bellingham is already a better player than Arthur, despite him being just 19. He has a far higher ceiling, which Liverpool will believe they can help him reach.

Klopp has shown he is able to develop young players into world-class stars. Just look at Trent Alexander-Arnold, who is now one of the best full-backs in the world.

This could convince Bellingham to join Liverpool over his other potential suitors, which includes Real Madrid.

Meanwhile, Graeme Souness thinks Mo Salah has not been himself since a Manchester United defender got the better of him recently.