Barcelona’s latest recruit Arthur Melo has a face that says it all. A broad smile, relaxed body language and a keen desire to talk about his first few days at the club is what Arthur came armed with as he sat down for an exclusive interview with Spanish daily Sport.
The midfielder spoke a range of topics including Barca’s highly technical level of play, the constant contact with the ball, Neymar‘s role in his decision to make the move and how he is hoping to make a name for himself on the grandest of footballing stages in the world.
How have your initial few days at Barcelona panned out, with your new colleagues and the change in training system?
Everything has been wonderful. The structure of this club is a reference point for everyone else. I have noticed a very high level of play and everyone at the club has received me very well. They have made me feel welcome.
Is the way of working any different from the one you had in Gremio?
The workouts are faster. In the field, the ball travels very fast and everything flows very seamlessly here. The ball speed is very high as well. It helps that the grass is short and wet. The ball is always in motion. It’s something that I like and I’m already well adapted to this way of working.
Do you like the new methodology or do you find it difficult to adapt?
No no I’m enjoying it a lot. One of the things that attracted me to Barcelona was their style of play, it is really fantastic and a joy to watch.
Have you been able to talk with Ernesto Valverde?
I spoke with the coach and he gave me a lot of confidence, which is something important for my adaptation process. He told me about the club’s tactical strategy and how things work here.
Did he tell you what your playing position in Barca’s midfield will be?
I can also play a pivot or a second pivot. Any of the midfield positions seem good to me. No problem, whether they place me a little more advanced on the pitch or in a more defensive position. I’m happy to play anywhere for the team and contribute to the team’s success.
Could it even be an option that you might have to play as a double pivot with Sergio Busquets?
Yes, one option is to play near Busquets in the midfield. We will see. I will understand and analyse all the positions that the coaches tell me.
What impression has the coach (Valverde) made on you?
He is very intelligent. He is attentive to the smallest detail. I haven’t interacted with him much but he always seems to be correct. Valverde has all the qualities that a good coach should have.
Have you developed a friendship with any particular player in the dressing room?
I speak with everyone here. But with the Brazilian entourage of players, I’m more at ease and can be myself because of the language aspect. I’m comfortable with Douglas, Marlon or Rafinha, who are helping me adapt and get used to the club and its surroundings.
Despite only being at Barcelona for few days, you understand quite a lot in Spanish. How is that?
Back home in Brazil, I had a Spanish teacher. I understand the language quite easily but talking is a little more difficult, although I hope to speak it in a short period of time.
Is the game that best suits your characteristics possession based, with quick pauses in between?
I enjoy the game of Barca, where you always want the ball at your feet. The team is sometimes interested in controlling, and in other speeding things up, with the idea of trying to dominate and control the game.
Did you watch any Barcelona games when you were in Brazil?
I started watching Barca games when Ronaldinho was here. Then came other Brazilian stars. They have all been great players and the club has also had other fantastic players. I like Barcelona because of the talented players that play here and the style of play of course.
You must have already realized the need to win that is ever present at Barca. More so after Real Madrid‘s run in the tournament, is the Champions League the big goal?
One of the reasons why I wanted to sign for Barca is because they always fight for the big titles every season and with me it will not be different. I have the dream of winning the Champions League and the La Liga as well, I will do everything possible to realise the dream at Camp Nou.
You met Coutinho on international duty with Brazil last October, did you two discuss the option of playing together at Barca one day?
Yes, we talked. On the day of my presentation here, Phil sent me a message and wished me luck. He told me that he is already adapted here and would help me. He is a great friend and a great player as well.
Do you think that you two will be compatible on the pitch at Camp Nou?
He is a great player, who likes to play in short passes. He has a very nice way of playing and we can do many things together at this great club.
Is it a dream for you to play alongside Leo Messi?
Yes, it will be a privilege to play by his side. In Barcelona, there are some great players and I consider myself fortunate to be able to play with Lionel Messi.
Is it true that Neymar gave you some advice and pushed you to sign for Barcelona?
Yes, when I was deciding to come or not, Neymar sent me a message with positive things about this club. He told me about how wonderful this club is, with receptive people, a wonderful city and everything else that is good about Barcelona.
Now that Andres Iniesta has left, would you like to inherit his number 8 jersey?
The jersey number doesn’t matter to me. My goal is to defend the Barca shirt. Having the number 8 shirt or playing with some other number does not matter to me, what counts is the badge on the front of my shirt.
Have not you thought about the number of your jersey at Barcelona then?
No, I don’t think on those lines. As I said, the most important thing is the badge on the front and being in the field with my teammates. I will let the club choose and accept the shirt number they offer me.
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