Liverpool’s new signing Arthur Melo continued his quest for match fitness by playing 60 minutes for the Reds under-21 side in the Papa John’s Trophy against Rochdale but it was not enough as the side fell to a 1-0 defeat to the team propping up the entire Football League. The Brazilian has been instructed by Jurgen Klopp to get as fit as possible in order to be ready for a place in his first team.
Liverpool raised eyebrows when they made a move for the 26-year-old on transfer deadline day after he had fallen badly out of favour at Juventus. Klopp was forced to act as the result of an injury crisis that had left him with just Fabinho, James Milner and Harvey Elliott as his only central midfield options with any real first-team experience. However, Arthur was not match fit when he arrived meaning he was not able to contribute.
There had been rumours that Klopp already wanted to ship him back off to the Serie A just two weeks into his loan spell with the German unhappy about his fitness levels. However, the Reds boss has since denied these claims but insisted the player needed to work on his fitness, by playing as much football as possible.
The Brazil international has now seen more game time in a Red jersey playing alongside the under-21 team in their 1-0 defeat away at Rochdale. He was replaced on the hour mark by Jay Spearing with the veteran midfielder now taking up a player-coach role in the club’s academy.
There had been a range of international call-ups even within the youth side meaning the side was severely depleted as a result.
In contrast, Arthur did not receive a call-up to his national team so has taken the opportunity to make an impression at Kirkby. He specifically asked his manager if he could come in for training every day and be involved with the u-21s, a wish that appears to have been granted.
Speaking about the loanee earlier this month, Klopp confirmed he needed regular minutes in order to improve his fitness and give himself a chance of being considered for first-team selection.
“Arthur needs now just football – and training, especially, that’s how it is,” he explained. “He wasn’t in team training for a while at Juve, so he needs proper team training – and that’s what we are doing with him. Can he play minutes? Yes. Should he play a full game? No, because he needs to get used to the intensity in each competition.
“It’s not like in the Champions League you have to work less than in the Premier League. Not at all.
“He is doing well, he is really giving his absolute all in training, we have to be careful with him as well and then we will see whether we can use him.”
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