Liverpool look close to completing the loan transfer of Arthur from Juventus. Whether or not the move is a success, it’s good news for Jude Bellingham plans.
So, Arthur Melo. That one came firmly out of left-field, didn’t it?
It seems that Liverpool have found the answer to their midfield crisis, in the form of a loan transfer for the Juventus man. It’s not exactly Jude Bellingham, but it appears to be a reasonably shrewd deal given the limitations of transfer deadline day.
Of course, there is a risk that it turns into another Ozan Kabak situation, not least because Arthur has a somewhat chequered injury history of his own.
And even if he does get regular minutes, it is unlikely to go down as an inspired signing: the Brazilian is not known for either goals or assists, so the best he can hope for is cult appreciation of his quietly assured presence.
In spite of these reservations, however, it is at least clear that Liverpool are finally on the right lines. In fact, in terms of the minutiae of the deal, it is the perfect kind of transfer.
For one thing, even if every fear about Arthur comes to pass, the only cost will have been a year’s wages. FSG would rather not pointlessly shell out on a season-long contract, but in the grand scheme of things it is very low-risk.
Given that the upside is a more balanced midfield that can better cope with the rigours of a fixture-intense season, it is clearly worth a shot.
Equally, by turning to the loan market, Liverpool have avoided getting completely ripped off in a typical deadline day fashion.
Any transfer fee would have come at a major premium, a fact FSG may well have discovered in their preliminary enquiries over the last few days.
For a player never likely to be the long-term solution in midfield, this would have been difficult to stomach.
And this hints at the crux of the matter. Quite simply, of the very limited pool of players Liverpool genuinely want to add as part of their permanent project, none were available.
Perhaps there should have been some more flexibility earlier in the window, when some better compromise options were still on the market — Boubacar Kamara, for instance, could have been signed on a free transfer, and profiles extremely similarly to Fabinho. He, among others, could have been moulded into a long-term solution. But having reached this point, Liverpool were understandably reluctant to part with big money for a mere stop-gap.
At this point, the name Bellingham once again irresistibly comes to mind. Dreams of dramatically sealing a deadline day move for the Borussia Dortmund youngster were never going to come to pass, but there appears to be an acceptance that he will move on next summer. Liverpool, by all accounts, are keen to be in the discussion.
Had Arthur, or indeed anyone else, been signed on a permanent transfer, next summer would have posed a sticky issue. What is currently an obvious space for Bellingham to slot into would have been partially occupied, potentially by someone who had enjoyed a reasonably impressive Anfield season. The temptation would have been not to spend big to replace an adequate in-house solution.
Instead, the relationship with Arthur has been firmly defined as a marriage of convenience from the outset. Much like Kabak, he has arrived because of very specific circumstances at Liverpool, and he will more than likely depart when FSG can get their hands on their main man.
Early signs suggest Ibrahima Konaté was worth the wait, and the same would surely be true of Bellingham.
Of course, it would be rash to entirely rule out the possibility of a permanent move.
Barcelona and then Juventus saw something special in Arthur, and he has the chance to play for a transfer come the end of the season. Having just turned 26, he is not far outside the bracket in which FSG tends to shop.
But by leaving that open only as an outside possibility, rather than an obligation, Liverpool have balanced their competing interests nicely.
FSG have limited the risk as much as possible, retained a clear path to signing Bellingham next summer, and found a player with the talent to theoretically make a genuine contribution to the current campaign.
Only time will tell if Arthur was the right man, but a loan transfer seems to have been the obvious solution from the outset.