BARCELONA

Arthur: the moment of truth

The Brazilian, fresh off Brazil's Copa América success, is back at Barcelona to continue to exceed expectations placed on him after his first season at Camp Nou.

Arthur: the moment of truth
Gorka Leiza DIARIO AS

A little over a year ago during Barcelona's tour of the United States, Arthur Melo, who was 21 at the time, played in three games made up of squad players with little experience in the first team. He became a sensation then and built on that promise over the course of last season.

He surprised with his personality on the ball, the ease at which he linked with his new teammates and his ability to read the tempo of a game. When the team's stars joined training after the World Cup, Messi was in no doubt about Barcelona's newest midfielder. "Arthur is the player who has surprised me most, he reminds me of Xavi," Messi said.

At the start of the season, Arthur was more than just promising and he slowly started to win his place in the team. His performances, however, went from good to just middling and he ended up on the bench. Just over two months into the season, after a loss to Leganes and a draw with Athletic Bilbao, he won his place in the middle.

With the signing of Frenkie de Jong, Sergi Roberto's move into the middle along with the recovery of Rafinha, Arthur knows he is returning to a fierce battle for minutes in Barça's midfield. If he wants to build on the promise he showed in his first season at the club, the moment of truth is now.

His objective is to play against Arsenal in the Gamper Trophy next Sunday, on the day he was officially supposed to finish his holidays.

The club gave him last season to settle himself in a new city and at a massive club, something they hope he has done. They did notice, however, that his behaviour off the field influenced his performances on it. The fact that he went to Neymar's birthday party in Paris the same week that Barcelona played a double-header against Real Madrid and he injured himself caused some concern. He did apologise for that, however, and learned from his mistake.

Arthur returns and completes medical to train

On Thursday, Arthur passed his medical revision and will train on Thursday with Barcelona. The Brazilian midfielder, who returned three days ahead of schedule, is sure that if he doesn't want to get lost in the crowded Barcelona midfield battle, he has to be plugged in and ready to play. 

With three places up for grabs, there are currently eight players vying for playing time.

Conscious of the competition, he has informed Valverde that he is available to play and willing to sacrifice a lot in order to win a place in his starting eleven.

One of the other handicaps he must overcome, aside from the competition, is his physical fragility. In his first year, he had two different episodes resulting in injury. Including the injury to his abdominal muscle, they impeded his development and continuity in the first team.

Arthur's return means just three players remain out of the squad as they rest up and prepare for the new season. Philippe Coutinho, Arturo Vidal and Lionel Messi. They will return on August 4.