Barcelona: Arthur the big disappointment of Valverde's reign
The Brazilian became a problem child for Valverde with three incidents that led to a frosty relationship along with a string of injury woes.
Ernesto Valverde left Barcelona with the feeling that he didn't get the very best out of some of his players. The reasons were two-fold: he didn't know how to incentivize these players and they didn't know how to take advantage when they were given chances.
At the start of his reign on the bench at the Camp Nou, it seemed as though Ousmane Dembélé would be considered the 'problem child' for his ill-discipline off the field. After two years though, Dembélé started to live like a professional 24 hours of the day, which was helped by the arrival of his compatriot, Antoine Griezmann.
The role of 'problem child' has been assumed by Arthur Melo. He is not prone to making much noise and doesn't strike as the kind of person who would cause problems but he has been involved in several acts of ill-discipline which saw the relationship between the player and manager break down.
The first came in February 2019 when he travelled to Paris to celebrate Neymar's birthday. It seemed an inopportune time to go and celebrate the Brazilian's big day when Barcelona were playing two days later in the Copa del Rey against Real Madrid. He was photographed with then teammate, Rafinha, who was injured, along with Neymar having a ball.
This cost Arthur some good will with the manager and he was forced to come out publicly and face the music. He had to apologise for his poor judgement by flying to France before the biggest game of the year.
The second incident came this season when he went to Andorra to snowboard. This activity is considered one of the highest-risk sports for anyone given the force it puts on your knees and hips. Worst of all, Arthur was coming back from a pubalgia injury that has plagued him for some time. He has been out injured since December with the same issue.
That wasn't it though. The Brazilian returned from his Christmas holidays overweight. He assured Barcelona that he would go home to Brazil with two physios to make sure he continued to make progress over the holidays so he would be available for the first games of the new year. He returned overweight and his pubalgia problems had actually worsened. Barcelona had to send out a statement pushing his return back a further three weeks.
The medical team at the club understand he has a 'handicap' in that his metabolism is very slow and he gains weight easily. The last incident was the last straw between Arthur and Valverde though.
On the field, apart from those indiscrections, Valverde was exhausted telling him to be more vertical and look more towards goal. He has lacked minutes this season and the injuries don't help but the other stuff could have been avoided and his stalled development will go down as one of the great disappointments under the former manager.
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