Barry Lewtas offers his thoughts on Arthur Melo’s story thus far with the Liverpool performances in practice and on the field.
When Arthur Melo came to Liverpool at the beginning of the month, the Crown Oil Arena’s modest surroundings were probably not what he had in mind.
But as he works to adjust to his new team, there was nowhere the on-loan midfielder would prefer to be on Tuesday night.
Barry Lewtas, the manager of Liverpool’s under-21 team, chuckled about knowing where the team was going, but he knew we had a game. According to the manager, Arthur chose to play.
The 26-year-old midfielder’s top priorities have been increasing fitness and match sharpness since Arthur came to Anfield from Juventus, having not played since May 11.
Arthur Melo’s Liverpool story summed up in a U-21 game
He went on to play for 90 minutes for the U21s in their Premier League 2 victory at Leicester City on Saturday. The Brazil international did play for just over an hour for a young Reds team that lost 1-0 at Rochdale in the EFL Trophy group stage. He was one of two players who were able to be overage.
Lewtas explains that Arthur came in during the international break to play games and improve his fitness. That demonstrates his professionalism because he did it on his own initiative. He has also been fantastic with the boys. He has been exceptional.
“In training on Monday, he was excellent, he really drove the lads, and as a matchday minus one, it’s probably the best one we’ve had.
He wants to get fit, he doesn’t need a week off, so it’s come from him. He doesn’t speak Scouse, and I don’t speak Portuguese, but I think you can tell from the body language. In the meetings, we went through some extra things and cleared a few things up. He has embraced it. He first trained with us on Friday.
He trained with the first team, and then he had a session with us for the team that was going to play against Leicester. He’ll do a little work with us during the international break.”
Lewtas thinks that Arthur’s presence is benefiting Liverpool’s Academy players. “We get really excellent access with the lads working with the first team an awful lot,” he says. “But when you put the shirt on. And you’re playing alongside someone who has done it correctly, it’s a little bit different.” “You could see the professional he is when playing Leicester. We’ve had a really positive experience, so.”
Stefan Bajcetic made an impression in defensive midfield before being replaced by Arthur on minute 62. And was another member of the first team to start at Rochdale.
Lewtas further added:
“They wanted to play a little bit more, to be fair to them. I thought Stefan was excellent. As a number six, we were able to play through him. I thought we built really well. Obviously, Arthur and Stefan will grab the headlines, but Dominic Corness wasn’t the weak link in there.
We had three ball-playing midfielders and Dominic dropping to the sides. I thought he was superb. He was at the hub of how we built, and from a midfield point of view, we were really good.”
This Is proof that a number of Liverpool players were absent owing to international obligations. The 33-year-old Jay Spearing, who is currently a coach with the U18s, took Arthur’s place on the bench. Jake Cain’s withdrawal due to a rib injury during the warm-up further upset a makeshift team. In his place, the promising U18 striker Lewis Koumas moved to the right flank and quickly made an impact. He went on to join midfielders Luca Stephenson and James McConnell in doing so.
“Luca was excellent at center-back. He’s a good footballer, he understands the game and dealt with a couple of senior number nines really well. James is an attacking midfielder, so to play him at right-back against an out-and-out wide player, I thought he did ever so well. Louie did well given he’d only been told in the warm-up that he was playing. I was a little bit worried because we had players in different positions, and you hope it comes together but I thought we did well.”
Tahvon Campbell, a substitute for Rochdale, struck despite appearing to be strangely offside. It was just eight minutes before visiting center-back Oludare Olufunwa was ejected for giving up a penalty. The penalty that Luke Hewitson saved for the young Reds.