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ANN ARBOR, Michigan — Arthur Melo is just being honest with himself. On Thursday afternoon here on the campus of the University of Michigan, the 22-year-old Brazilian midfielder was frank.
"This is going to be a long season, but a good one," Arthur told the members of the media who were assembled around him prior to Barça's first training session since arriving from Miami earlier in the day. "This year, I think I am more mature and better adapted."
With Barça here in Ann Arbor ahead of Saturday's friendly with Napoli at Michigan Stadium, Arthur spoke of both his and the team's objectives going into the new season.
"Personally, I want to get stronger physically, because last year it got a little tough for me," he said. "As a team, our objective is to win every title we can."
"We know it's difficult, but that's why we're here," said Arthur, who returned to training earlier than expected to begin getting into shape.
When asked about his Brazilian countrymen Philippe Coutinho and Neymar Jr, Arthur was unequivocal. "It's [Coutinho's] decision," regarding whether he wants to stay at Barça or not. "I want him to stay because he's a great player and he's my friend."
Arthur said he had not spoken to Neymar, however, because he didn't want to "bother him."
"He gets asked about that by everyone," Arthur said of Neymar and the wave of transfer rumors surrounding him. "We'll see what happens."
"I like playing with him on the Brazil national team and it would be great to have him here at Barça as well."