Barcelona's Arthur feels Camp Nou love amid Xavi comparisons
The footballing quality of Arthur, who successfully made 83 of 87 passes against Inter, is already getting him comparisons to Barcelona legends.
The potential comparison of summer signing Arthur to former great Xavi Hernández is so huge that everyone in the Barcelona dressing room treads very carefully around the topic.
Arthur gets Xavi comparisons
Sergio Busquets, for example, believes that Arthur still "lacks something tactically", but, in the end, they all seem to mention it. "The way he turns reminds me of Xavi," commented Busquets in the same breath, while Lionel Messi said, "He reminds me of him," referring to his old teammate. Even Xavi himself gave his blessing: "He has the Barça DNA and can make his mark on an era".
The predictions of a bright future for the Brazilian are already being realised. Arthur's style is being enjoyed by those sitting around the Camp Nou, those who can identify with the first touch, the movement, the readiness to receive again. It almost like he's playing hide and seek with the ball in order to keep possession of it. The fans were already fluttering their collective eyes as Arthur impressed against Tottenham at Wembley and Valencia in the Mestalla, but this crush has moved on following his showing against Inter Milan on Wednesday evening in the Camp Nou.
There were only four passes from a total of 87 that did not reach their target (meaning 83 were successful) and several times the 22-year old was back on the edge of his own penalty box collecting the ball to take forward between the closing white shirts of Inter. It is true, of course, that Arthur had two rather handy supporting acts alongside him. Rakitic successfully made 92 passes while Busquets only failed in one of his 76; both players working hard to win the ball back.
Physical question marks
Despite his undoubted abilities, it is possible that Arthur still lacks the physicality required for this level, with Valverde often choosing to substitute him in the last quarter of an hour of games. Maybe too, Busquets is right in questioning his tactical awareness, especially with regards to his defensive focus. But his presence has given stability to the team and has brought back a sense of the very recognisable Barça brand of football, one that we struggled to see with a line-up of Coutinho, Suárez, Dembélé and Messi together. Arthur won 100% of the balls he competed for in the match against Inter, which speaks volumes of his desire and intelligence, given his stature.
The blaugrana fans, in short, have connected with their new midfielder who arrived from Gremio in the summer, and they seem comfortable to watch him try to fill the legendary boots of their former hero, Xavi.