The insider account of Arthur Melo's beginnings at Liverpool reveals a truth that is "quite evident." - Flashfootballnews
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Barry Lewtas

The insider account of Arthur Melo’s beginnings at Liverpool reveals a truth that is “quite evident.”

Barry Lewtas, head coach of Liverpool’s under-21 team, offers his thoughts on Arthur Melo’s thus far with the Reds performances in practice and on the field.

When Arthur Melo committed to Liverpool at the beginning of the month, the Crown Oil Arena’s modest surroundings were undoubtedly not what he had in mind.

Barry Lewtas
Barry Lewtas

But as he works to adjust to his new team, there was nowhere the on-loan midfielder would have preferred to be on Tuesday night.

Barry Lewtas, the manager of Liverpool’s under-21 team, chuckles, “I don’t think he knew where we were going, but he knew we had a game!” But it was evident that he wanted to give it his all.

The 26-year-old midfielder’s top priorities have been increasing fitness and match sharpness since Arthur arrived at Anfield from Juventus having not played since May 11.

Barry Lewtas
Barry Lewtas

And after playing for 90 minutes for the U21s in their Premier League 2 victory at Leicester City on Saturday, the Brazil international played 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 allowed 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.

“He did a great job motivating the guys at training on Monday, and as a matchday minus one, it was arguably the best one we’ve ever had.

“He initiated it since he wants to be in shape and doesn’t require a week off. Although I don’t understand Portuguese and he doesn’t speak Scouse, I believe you can tell from the body language. We went over some additional material and clarified a couple issues in the meetings. It has his support.

“He joined us during our first practice on Friday. He worked out with the first team before working out with us for the squad that would face Leicester. He’ll work with us a little bit over 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, a 17-year-old who made an impression in defensive midfield before being substituted by Arthur on minute 62, was another member of the inaugural team to start at Rochdale.

They were excellent, Lewtas continues. To be fair to them, “they wanted to play a little bit more. Stefan was great, in my opinion. I thought we constructed pretty effectively because we were able to play through him as the number six.

Although Arthur and Stefan will undoubtedly garner the majority of the attention, Dominic Corness wasn’t the weakest link. In addition to Dominic dropping to the sides, we had three ball-playing midfielders, and I felt he was excellent. He served as the focal center of our formation, and our midfielders thought we were excellent.

As proof that a number of Liverpool players were absent owing to international obligations, 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 disturbed a makeshift team. In his place, the talented U18 striker Lewis Koumas moved to the right flank and quickly made an impact, joining midfielders Luca Stephenson and James McConnell in doing so.

Lewtas remarked that “Luca was brilliant at center-back.” “He’s a good footballer, he knows the game, and he handled some veteran number nines extremely well. James is an attacking midfielder, therefore I felt he did exceptionally well playing right back against an out-and-out wide player.


“Considering that Louie had only learned he was playing during the warm-up, he fared well. We had guys in a variety of positions, so I was a little concerned. However, I thought we performed admirably.”

Tahvon Campbell, a substitute for Rochdale, scored despite appearing to be strangely offside just eight minutes before visiting center-back Oludare Olufunwa was dismissed for giving up a penalty that Luke Hewitson saved for the young Reds.

Lewtas adds, “I’m honestly pretty disappointed in the game. Rochdale got off to a tremendous start, but we survived the storm. I thought we were excellent, but it’s likely that we weren’t quite able to bridge the gap between setting up play and attacking because we couldn’t get enough bodies in front of the ball.

“I don’t want to sound like a sour grapes, but I’ve looked at their goal again and it is almost offside; it appears more off than on, and you also get the red card,” the critic said. Although we played well, it sometimes seems like the younger players don’t get the luck.

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