Arthur grew up idolizing Andrés Iniesta — now he wears his number

Arthur grew up idolizing Andrés Iniesta — now he wears his number

The Barça midfielder, who is coming off his best game since joining Barça, sits down with The Players’ Tribune and explains how his childhood dreams have become a reality

If you believe in destiny, then the story of Arthur Melo is right up your alley.

In a video interview published this week in The Players’ Tribune, FC Barcelona’s first-year midfielder talked about his childhood aspirations and how, for all intents and purposes, they had come true, and then some.

According to the 22-year-old Brazilian, he grew up mimicking the playing style of Andrés Iniesta, the former Barça captain and number 8 who moved on to Japan at the end of last season following a stellar career that took him from his hometown of Fuentealbilla, Spain, to Barça’s famed La Masia at the age of 12, and on to stardom with the first team.

Arthur, who began playing as a midfielder as a youngster in Brazil, paid close attention to Iniesta, because, “As a midfielder, he was for many years the best player.”

“I started following his moves more closely,” Arthur said, explaining that he would practice kicking the ball against the wall to imitate Iniesta’s touches. “I used to do it in my home.”

But little did Arthur know that one day he would follow so closely in his role model’s footsteps. And it finally hit home, not when Arthur signed with Barça over the summer, but when he was asked which number he wanted to wear.

“That’s OK,” Arthur explains in the interview what he told Barça at the time. “You can give me any number you want to. I’m already very happy and proud to play at [FC] Barcelona.”

“But, coincidentally, I ended up with 8.”

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