Everyone knows that Sofyan Amrabat is leaving Fiorentina this summer as soon as someone comes in with the requisite €30 million offer. With Alfred Duncan looking ever more peripheral and Alessandro Bianco loaned to Reggiana, that leaves just Rolando Mandragora, Gaetano Castrovilli (whose contract renewal saga drags on), and maybe Giacomo Bonaventura as options in the Viola double pivot. It’s obvious that the team needs at least one more midfielder; it’s just strange that Arthur Melo seems to be the choice.
Fiorentina are close to complete the signing of Arthur Melo, as revealed two days ago. Negotiations are now advancing.— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) July 15, 2023
Official bid: loan move until June 2024, buy option included and part of the salary covered by Juventus. pic.twitter.com/LyfHLedWgV
The mononymous Brazilian is currently registered with Juventus and the Bianconeri are desperate to get him—and half a dozen other players—off the books. The word is that Vincenzo Italiano has personally requested Daniele Pradè to bring the midfielder to Florence. The fans, though, have decidedly mixed opinions about the move.
On the one hand, the 26-year-old is an outrageously talented player. There’s a reason that Barcelona, Juventus, and Liverpool all wanted him, and that reason is he can dominate a match. A silky, tempo-setting passer who can also play the killer ball and unlock a deep block, he’d immediately be Fiorentina’s best passer, maybe since the halcyon days of David Pizarro. He could unlock Nicolás González and the whole dang attack singlehandedly. He’s got that kind of quality.
On the other hand, though, Barcelona, Juventus, and Liverpool were all eager to see the back of him after 2 seasons at most. He’s never been the sturdiest out of possession and he’s not an especially hard worker, which does raise questions about his fit in Italiano’s blood-and-thunder pressing scheme. Flameouts at Barca and Liverpool, teams that operate similarly to the Viola, are enough to give supporters pause.
Too, there are the injuries. Arthur missed most of last year with soft tissue problems and much of the previous one with ankle issues. He’s played 67 games in the past 3 years and missed 49 with various leg ailments, particularly the hamstrings and the ankles. While he’s not a player who relies on explosive athleticism, so many problems with the same body parts is troubling.
His reputation as a party animal makes his injury history even dicier, as there are concerns that he’s not taking care of his body well enough to hold up for a full season and that his lifestyle’s catching up to him. Nightclubs, trips to Paris for parties with Neymar, and a drunk driving charge are a little reminiscent of a former Brazilian Viola star, especially when you factor in his refusal to rejoin Barcelona and instead hang out in Brazil before being swapped for Miralem Pjanić, which is a bit too Edmundo. To his credit, he’s mostly stayed out of the spotlight since joining Juve, but the history is there.
There’s also the added sting of helping the Juvenuts get out of a contract they don’t want. He earns €5 million a year until 2025. Even with the Bianconeri paying half his wages, that’s a hefty salary on a Fiorentina scale, to say nothing of the future transfer fee. It’s no wonder that so many fans are deeply skeptical: Arthur Melo has plenty of flaws. But if it’s true that Italiano has specifically requested him, it probably makes sense to trust the mister’s vision, as he’s gotten most of his personnel decisions bang on.