As the hours of the transfer window ticked down, Jurgen Klopp announced a new signing for Liverpool. They managed to secure the services of Juventus midfielder Arthur Melo on loan for the remainder of the season.
Klopp spoke about his need for a midfielder during the final weeks of the transfer window, but with targets such as Aurelien Tchouameni moving to Real Madrid and Jude Bellingham staying at Borussia Dortmund for another season, the Anfield faithful were left scratching their heads at who could make the move to the club.
The answer was Melo, but it might have been much more exciting if they had secured a deal for another Serie A midfielder instead.
Indeed, over the last six months he is thought to be outperforming even that of Bellingham when you consider Optapro data. The Englishman ranks in a whopping 350th place across Europe’s big leagues for his displays, while Barella soars much higher in 86th place. It is a marker of his fine stature within the game and it won’t come as a surprise to hear he is outperforming Arthur either.
The Brazilian has played a total of 13 competitive minutes for the club since arriving on deadline day, whereas Barella already has two goals and two assists from his eight matches so far in all competitions, proving that Klopp made a significant blunder.
Even looking past the current campaign, last season, Barella performed much better than his former Serie A counterpart.
The Italian had 14 goal contributions compared to zero for the Brazilian, while Barella had a staggering 4.05 shot-creating actions per match last year, compared to just 1.5 for Melo. This highlights how much of a goal threat the Inter Milan midfielder really is and this is something Klopp should have considered.
Even from a defensive viewpoint, Barella won more tackles (33 to 14), made more pressures (421 to 236), and won a higher percentage of aerial duels (40% to 37.5%) although he did play more matches than the 26-year-old.
The Liverpool midfield could have used this added attacking impetus, with only Fabio Carvalho scoring more than once from the Anfield side’s engine room and this is a worrying trend that needs to change if Klopp wants success this season.
The 25-year-old was hailed as “extraordinary” by Rolando Maran, and he certainly has the required attributes that would make him a success on Merseyside. Klopp will surely still be regretting the decision to bring Arthur to the club instead of Barella.