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Arthur Melo to Liverpool: Injury-prone but technically brilliant, Brazil midfielder a gamble worth taking for Jurgen Klopp




Jurgen Klopp had already confirmed Liverpool were in the market for a midfielder before Wednesday’s win over Newcastle but Jordan Henderson’s hamstring injury added to the urgency.

Henderson joined Thiago Alcantara, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the sidelines when he was forced off in the second half at Anfield but Liverpool acted just 24 hours later, confirming the loan signing of Arthur Melo from Juventus.

Arthur looked to have a brilliant future in Catalonia at that point but it never quite came to fruition for him.


Over the course of his first season at the club, he only started more than three consecutive games on two occasions. By the end of his second, he had fallen out of favour altogether.

His move to Juventus that summer, for a fee of £66m, with Miralem Pjanic moving the other way for £54.8m, provided a change of scenery but ultimately not a change of fortunes.

Arthur impressed in patches in his first campaign in Italy but featured sporadically under Andrea Pirlo and it was a similar story under Pirlo’s successor Massimiliano Allegri last season.

His talent has never been in doubt – Allegri described his technical ability as “extraordinary” earlier this year and Pirlo was similarly complimentary – but other factors held him back.

Robustness under scrutiny

Injuries have been a persistent issue for Arthur and they leave question marks hanging over him as he arrives at Anfield.


Liverpool’s absentee list is such that Arthur will be needed immediately but does he have the robustness for the Premier League? Does he have the robustness to play under Klopp?

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Liverpool’s breathless approach demands high levels of stamina and physical resilience and there is little in Arthur’s recent history to suggest he possesses those qualities.

He has not featured at all for Juventus this season and arrives at Anfield having not played a single minute of competitive action since Juve’s Coppa Italia final defeat to Inter Milan four months ago.

It is not exactly ideal preparation for a side about to embark on a run of five games in 15 days.

It is not ideal, either, that Arthur has never started more than 19 league games in a league season in Europe, the percentage of fixtures he has started in fact declining every year since his arrival from Brazil back in 2018.


It is a worrying trend which goes part of the way to explaining why Arsenal decided against moving for him in the January transfer window. The hope for Klopp and Liverpool is he will succeed in reversing that trend in his new surroundings.

Pass master like Thiago

If he can, it may yet prove an inspired piece of business.

Thankfully for Liverpool, Arthur’s susceptibility to injury is not the only quality he has in common with Thiago.

Until now, Liverpool have not possessed another midfielder capable of influencing proceedings quite like Thiago in possession but Arthur might just be that man – providing he can stay fit.

While he has not featured nearly as regularly as he would like during his time with Juventus, his influence on the ball can be seen in his statistical output.

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He has averaged more touches per 90 minutes than any other Juventus player over the last two seasons and also ranks top in terms of passes and pass success. Only one player, Manuel Locatelli, has averaged more passes in the final third.

Much like Thiago, whose off-the-ball work is underrated, Arthur offers plenty out of possession too, the statistics showing he has won possession in the middle third of the pitch at a higher rate than any other Juventus player over the last two seasons.

Chiefly, though, he is someone who can help his team dominate possession and unpick opposition defences. Like Thiago, he is not known for racking up goals and assists. He is more likely to be found starting attacks than finishing them.

But his “extraordinary” technical ability coupled with the Xavi-like distribution which marked him out for a big future at Barcelona could help ease Liverpool’s reliance on Thiago, and give them a much-needed alternative in an area of the pitch in which they too frequently find themselves short on numbers.

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2024 WAFCON qualifier: Super Falcons arrive Praia for Cape Verde clash



Ahead of Tuesday’s second leg of the 2024 Women’s African Cup of Nations qualifier, Nigeria’s Super Falcons have landed in Praia for the game.

The Nigerian side dominated and won the first leg 5-0 at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja on Thursday and the result gave them hope to scaling the hurdle to the competition.

Super Falcons departed the shore of the country on Saturday and safely arrived at the Praia, the capital city of Cape Verde in the early hours of Sunday.

Falcons are willing to qualify and do better in the competition next year after they finished in the 4th position in the last edition that was held in Morocco.


The game against the Blue Shark of Cape Verde is scheduled to take place on Tuesday with the winner over the two legs reaching the competition slated for Morocco.

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Osimhen won’t renew Napoli contract



Nigeria international Victor Osimhen’s departure from Napoli is almost looking certain after Italian football transfer expert Fabrizio Romano said the striker was unlikely to renew his contract with the Italian champions,

Osimhen has been linked with several European clubs with English Premier League duo, Chelsea and Arsenal, leading the race for the Nigerians.

Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, had on several occasions said that the club’s most prized asset would not be sold this summer even if their valuation of €200m was met.

“Osimhen will stay here. He won’t leave,” he told Sky in August.


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Super Eagles drop two places in latest FIFA rankings



The Super Eagles of Nigeria have dropped by two spots in the latest FIFA ranking to place 42nd in the world.

In the ranking table on the website of the world football governing body, on Thursday, the Eagles dropped 16.04 points to rank 1474.44 points as against 1490.48 in October.

However, the drop did not affect the team’s placement on the continent, as it still remained the 6th team on the continent, behind Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, respectively.

The drop in ranking comes after the Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw in their two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho on Nov. 16 and Zimbabwe on Nov. 19.


Although Argentina (1st) still leads the way ahead of France (2nd), England (3rd, up 1) is now in the trio of teams at the front of the pack, followed by Belgium (4th, up 1), who have also climbed one place.

Although Brazil (5th, down 2) have lost ground following back-to-back defeats by Colombia and Argentina, they have clung on to their place in the top 5.

The Netherlands (6th, up 1) and Portugal (7th, down 1) have traded places in the top 10, which is once again completed by Spain (8th), Italy (9th) and Croatia (10th).

Uruguay (11th, up 4) have made solid progress, but they have to be content with a place just outside the top 10.

The Comoros Islands (119th, up 9), meanwhile, enjoyed an even better month with wins against the Central African Republic and Ghana, and have two reasons to celebrate as they are now in 119th place, their highest-ever position.

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Kosovo (101st, up 4) may not have climbed as many positions as the Comorans, but the Kosovans are also now higher in the ranking than ever before.

Guinea-Bissau (103rd, up 7), Azerbaijan (114th, up 6), Libya (120th, up 6), Malaysia (130th, up 7) and Rwanda (133rd, up 7) are the other big movers in the November ranking.

The ranking also had the re-entry of Samoa (187th), American Samoa (188th) and Tonga (196th), who were all playing international football again following months of inactivity.

The ranking took into consideration FIFA World Cup qualifiers that took place in African countries as well as in Asia and South America.

The other confederations’ schedules considered included UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying matches, Concacaf Nations League 2023-24 encounters and the Pacific Games 2023.


These matches all had a significant effect on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, including on the make-up of the podium.

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