Arsenal waiting for Juventus to green light Arthur Melo loan deal

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Arthur in action for Juventus where he has been short of minutes - GETTY IMAGES
Arthur in action for Juventus where he has been short of minutes - GETTY IMAGES

Arsenal are waiting on Juventus to approve their loan move for Arthur Melo as Mikel Arteta attempts to address the growing midfield shortage in his squad.

Arsenal are in advanced talks with Juventus over a six-month loan deal for Arthur, but the Italian giants want to sign a replacement before allowing the Brazilian to leave for England.

Edu, the Arsenal technical director, is desperately trying to find more options for the central midfield position as Arteta tries to cope with a series of absences at the heart of his team.

The red card for Granit Xhaka in Thursday’s League Cup semi-final against Liverpool means that Albert Sambi Lokonga is the only senior midfielder available to Arteta for this weekend’s north London derby.

Thomas Partey and Mohamed Elneny are currently on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations, Ainsley Maitland-Niles has been loaned to Roma and Martin Odegaard has tested positive for Covid.

Arthur, who has 21 caps for Brazil, joined Juventus from Barcelona in the summer of 2020 for an initial fee of £66 million. He has started just four matches in all competitions this season, though, and is understood to be keen on making the move to London.

Analysis: How will Arteta solve the midfield crisis against Tottenham?

It is either a strange quirk of fate, or just bad planning, that Arsenal currently have one available senior central midfielder in their squad, but three of them out on loan. Ainsley Maitland-Niles (Roma), Lucas Torreira (Fiorentina) and Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille) cannot help Arsenal this weekend, when Mikel Arteta needs to find a solution without much time or resources to work with.

Arsenal are hopeful that Arthur Melo will be arriving soon, but he will not be in north London in time for Sunday’s derby against Tottenham Hotspur. With Granit Xhaka now suspended, Albert Sambi Lokonga is the last man standing among Arteta’s midfielders.

The Belgian surely cannot man the entire centre of the pitch on his own, so who will join him? One option is young Charlie Patino, who made his full debut for the club in Sunday’s FA Cup defeat at Nottingham Forest. Arteta rates Patino highly, and Arsenal have big plans for the midfielder, but he has not yet made his Premier League debut. To do so away to Tottenham, in a crucial derby, would be the ultimate test.

A more likely solution at this stage is for Arteta to repurpose another of his senior players. Ben White has played in midfield before, doing so on a handful of occasions for Brighton last season, and Arteta said this week that moving his £50m centre-back is an “option” for him to consider.

Arsenal defender Ben White reacts after Liverpool's Takumi Minamino shoots over the bar during the Carabao Cup Semi Final First Leg - Getty Images
Arsenal defender Ben White reacts after Liverpool's Takumi Minamino shoots over the bar during the Carabao Cup Semi Final First Leg - Getty Images

Such a move would break up the impressive defensive partnership between White and Gabriel, though. Both players were excellent against Liverpool and Arteta will be reluctant to disrupt his defensive core.

An alternative option is Calum Chambers, who excelled for Fulham in a defensive midfield position during the 2018-19 season. But Chambers might be needed at right-back, depending on the severity of the injury which forced Cedric Soares out of the game against Liverpool on Thursday.

Perhaps Emile Smith Rowe, if he is fit, could play in a deeper midfield position? Perhaps Bukayo Saka could move inside from the wing? None of these are options that will excite Arteta, but he needs to move quickly as he searches for a short-term answer to an increasingly worrying problem.

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