Barcelona new boy Arthur Melo is like club legend Xavi Hernandez, according to Lionel Messi.
Barcelona signed the 21-year-old midfielder in the summer transfer window for €31m from Brazilian club Gremio on a six-year deal.
Following the departure of captain and legend Andres Iniesta at the end of last season, fans expect Arthur to fill some big boots at the Camp Nou.
The Brazilian has even taken Iniesta’s vacated number eight jersey.
But, in an interview with Catalunya Radio, Messi instead likened Arthur’s playing style to another Barca legend, and a former teammate of his, in Xavi.
The Spanish playmaker spent 18 years with the Blaugrana and was notorious for his ability to find and exploit space whilst being an accurate passer with world-class ball control.
It is these kinds of qualities that Messi now sees in Arthur, whom he believes already has the “La Masia style”.
“Arthur, I didn’t know that much about but he seems like Xavi. He’s very safe and trustworthy. He has the La Masia style,” said Messi, as quoted by Sport.
“Playing short passes, without losing the ball, and he grasped it quickly, the dynamic of the team.”
Another new midfielder signed by Barcelona this summer is Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich.
Although Messi feels that Vidal’s tenacious style of play will be a valuable asset, the Chilean international does not fit the profile that Barcelona favours at the heart of their midfield.
“Barça fans always want players with good feet,” he said.
“We defend with the ball. Players like Arturo Vidal are necessary.
“He’s the type of player who does everything well, with the ball and also with the muscle that he has.
“Games are getting more complicated, physique is important and we are always the smallest.”