A Liverpool star who left over the summer was a transfer target for Barcelona in January, though club legend Sergio Busquets told Xavi two reasons to avoid springing his signing.
The Reds oversaw a sweeping midfield rebuild in the off-season. Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch all arrived. A fifth addition could be on the cards in 2024, with Fluminense’s Andre and Jamal Musiala of Bayern Munich both in the club’s sights.
However, from a purely numbers perspective, Liverpool are worse off than when they started.
Indeed, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were both lured to Saudi Arabia. Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain left as free agents. Furthermore, the €37.5m option to buy in the contract of loanee Arthur Melo was ignored.
Arthur, 27, was a deadline day loan signing from Juventus in the summer window of 2022.
Signing the Brazilian was acknowledged as something of a gamble given his chequered injury record. The concerns proved well-founded, with Arthur limited to just a single appearance off the bench during his one season on Merseyside.
Arthur returned to Juventus over the summer before then signing with Fiorentina on another season-long loan.
However, according to the Barca reservat podcast (as cited by Sport), Arthur could have ended up back at the Camp Nou last January.
Busquets cuts down Arthur return for two reasons
Speculation Liverpool would cut Arthur’s loan spell in half swirled around the turn of the year. Had they done so, a move to Barcelona could’ve awaited amid the claims Xavi sought midfield reinforcements in the January window.
Barcelona were pushing for their first LaLiga title in four years and Xavi set his sights on a cut-price and short-term addition to his ranks. Arthur, potentially via a six-month loan if Liverpool severed ties early, would’ve ticked those boxes.
However, Xavi asked the senior members of his dressing room for their thoughts on re-signing Arthur. The Brazilian previously played for Barca between 2018-20.
One player consulted was club icon Sergio Busquets. Per the report, the veteran Spaniard’s brutal assessment ensured Xavi shelved his plans for Arthur.
It’s claimed Busquets told Xavi Arthur ‘led a disorderly life during his stay at Barca.’
Furthermore, Busquets suggested Arthur would ‘not be a good example for the young [players]’ in the squad.
Combined with Arthur being sidelined through injury, Barcelona abandoned all plans to explore whether they could bring Arthur on board.
Thankfully for Arthur, his brief time with Fiorentina thus far has been more fruitful than his stint with Liverpool.
The midfielder has kept the injury bug at bay and racked up 10 appearances across all competitions for La Viola.