It’s a tale of two Arthurs at Barcelona. King Arthur or ‘Rey Arturo’ as Arturo Vidal’s Instagram account has it, arrived this summer alongside Arthur Melo.
The Brazilian kid and the Chilean serial title winner. One is already being looked at as a loose cannon while the other has become many people’s new Xavi.
As Spain‘s El Pais revealed on Wednesday, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde rejected the signing of Arturo Vidal in 2016, choosing instead that the club sign Paulinho.
Arthur Melo has become many people’s new Xavi under Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde
Experienced midfielder Arturo Vidal has been frustrated at a lack of game time at Barcelona
TALE OF THE TAPE – BARCELONA
La Liga games: 4
Champions League games: 2
Overall minutes: 268
La Liga games: 6
Champions League games: 2
Overall minutes: 172
The Brazil midfieldder won over supporters and team-mates alike with his goals and his attitude, as well as the invisible cigar celebration. But he only stayed a year before going back to Guangzhou Evergrande – modern transfers move in mysterious ways.
That led to Vidal being offered up to Valverde again this summer and in the absence of alternatives he excepted the 31-year-old’s incorporation.
Against Tottenham Vidal was expecting to be picked to start at Wembley. He wasn’t and instead of celebrating his team’s away win he took to social media to show his frustration with an angry face emoji.
He was persuaded to delete the publication by team-mates but it was not long before his twitter trigger finger twitched again. Perhaps irked by warming up but not coming on against Valencia at the weekend he posted the message: ‘You don’t fight with a Judas because they end up hanging themselves’.
Vidal expected to be picked from the start against Tottenham but came on in the 87th minute
Again the message was deleted and speaking on international duty this week Vidal said: ‘When I have a problem I go directly to the coach and speak with him. One can have various reasons for these things [the messages]. It was nothing to do with sport. I later removed it so people don’t start speculating. Some things are personal or a joke. Nothing to do with Barcelona or any one person.’
He did however admit: ‘How am I going to be happy if I am not playing.’
He would be correct in thinking that on the pitch he has done nothing wrong. He has not matched Paulinho for goals but in very limited game time he has looked at home. The one thing he has failed to do is top Arthur’s performances.
Against both Spurs and Valencia the 22-year-old looked like a Barcelona player – one in particular.
Arthur shone during the Champions League clash at Wembley as Barcelona won 4-2
While it’s clearly far too early to liken him to Xavi there is no getting away from the fact that he resembles the former Barcelona captain in the way he protects the ball. That 180 degree turn carefully guarding possession as he removes the ball from the reach of his opponent like a magician whipping off a tablecloth leaving all the cutlery on it untouched.
‘If I have to pick out one of the new signings it would be Arthur,’ said Lionel Messi in a radio interview earlier this season. ‘He is very confident and very secure.’ He also likened him to Xavi before adding: ‘He has a similar style. He plays it short and he doesn’t lose the ball.’
Vidal has been around the block to know that the season has only just began and as Arthur’s first in Europe he might struggle to maintain early pace regardless of his Messi recommendation.
What seems certain is that Valverde will do everything he can to protect the former Gremio schemer and Vidal’s early season letting off of steam on social media will not be entirely forgotten.
Lionel Messi recently likened the new signing to Spain and Barcelona legend Xavi