Scouting Report: Felipe Melo, Brazil

Fiorentina’s midfielder Felipe Melo is tidy and uncomplicated, just like another certain Brazilian at Arsenal although it’s his power which has turned many heads.

They say it takes a player three years to come through the Arsenal world-wide scouting system but it seems highly unlikely Melo would have been on Arsenal’s radar for that long. For many fans, a couple of Youtube videos have convinced them that the midfielder is the real deal however his matches for Brazil leave a lot to be desired.

Since 2001, Felipe Melo has turned out for seven different clubs and after a strong season with Almeria of Spain resulting in a move to Fiorentina, he seems to have found his true calling. The increasingly globalised and homogenised game, has found a place for a player like Melo in Brazil whereas ten years ago he may have struggled. Alongside Gilberto Silva in a 4-2-3-1, the purists may hate it but there is no doubt the pair provide a solid base.

The two play contrasting roles for Brazil; Gilberto likes to mark from distance, always keeping an eye for the attacking and then getting close to the man. Melo on the other hand likes to get to the ball quickly, preferring to play with what’s in front of him.

Against Egypt, the duo found it difficult to get to grips with the the African champion’s movement and passing, especially of Abo Terika in particular. Full backs Dani Alves and Kleber were made the scapegoats by Dunga after conceding three goals as he dropped the two for the next game although the weak cover in front of the defence exposed the centre backs meaning the full backs always had to make the space. Egypt’s superior possession count showed there must be improvements in awareness and positional play from Melo and Silva.

USA was less of a test as the opposition looked uninspired and never really posed a threat. Melo got his goal; a powerful header and it is his height that could bring balance to a team. In possession he was tidy and uncomplicated, keeping the ball moving however his unwillingness to take the ball off the centre backs was concerning. A couple of times, he almost hid behind a USA player rather than asking for the ball. It was Gilberto Silva who made their  bigger presence felt but in truth both had average games.

Next came Italy, which was thought to be the sternest test however Felipe Melo came out unscathed. Italy’s uninspired performance failed to show both the bright side and also the weaknesses of Dunga’s central midfield. This time Melo was more demanding of the ball though not a huge leap. He certainly can pass the ball and in the second half, initiated a few attacks. His power with the ball also showed, making some telling bursts although power does not mean his tackling is all that strong.

A good interception was followed by a challenge which had him nearly falling backwards from the impact. Pirlo skipped easily away from Melo on a couple of occasions and the Brazilian looked ambling at times. Tracking back, he knows the danger areas of pitch as he took his place at the edge of the area when the opposition broke forward but the problem against USA was that he had no-one to mark. Against Italy, he repeated the same trick; one time it lead to a headed clearance, another nothing but at least he knows the danger areas. However against Spain he could be found marking space rather than a man and could get punished.

Gilberto Silva had the main man-marking duties therefore there wasn’t much to tell about Melo’s pros and cons in this department although he did follow his man a few times. He certainly prefers to mark what’s in front of him and then get to the ball quickly. He performed this very well but the best defensive midfielders constantly look over their shoulders and Melo failed to do so.

He is mobile and athletic and that lends it self well but I would have some reservations about him without someone like Gilberto alongside. At Fiorentina, the club play a three man midfield therefore displacing some of the risks on him and he still ended the season with 17 yellow cards and three red cards. Could he perform as solidly at Arsenal where the mantle will be greater covering for Fabregas and the full backs who look to push forward? What about the high line? He needs to be positionally very aware and on his toes something Denilson is just ahead of. However his power is what teams desire and in that regard he is stronger therefore pushing his value up.

Overall, it would be understandable if one was to feel slightly underwhelmed by Felipe Melo. He has talent and you feel that he could offer more but modern football is all about individuals like Kaka and Robinho balanced by specialists like….well, Gilberto and Melo. And you can’t help but feel that the Brazilian is happy playing in this way.

Scout Report Card:
Age 25
Position Defensive Midfielder
Height 6ft
Weight 11st 7lbs (73 kg)

Heading ­8
Passing 6
Tackling 7
Vision and Awareness 6
Team ­responsibility 8

Value £10m

Other posts in this series:
Scouting Report: Miguel Veloso
Arsenal’s Scouting Network


21 thoughts on “Scouting Report: Felipe Melo, Brazil

  1. I’ve seen quite a lot of Melo this season, it’s remarkable that since his debut vs Italy, he has kept his place.

    He reminds me a bit of Inler, he had a storming first season, in the second he fell way below the standards he set himself. As always, we must look at it in the context of how Fiorentina and Brazil play, and where does he fit in with Arsenal.

    For the Viola play a 4-3-1-2 or a 4-4-2 diamond depending how you interpret it. Within that formation, they have Kuzmanovic and Montolivio who provide the passing in midfield, the former aids in defending with Melo and Donadel.

    In such a tactical construct, he is able to clean up and get forward, but it must be emphasised, he is not the sole holding player, so if Arsenal intend on him doing this alone, i would be a bit sceptical.

    For Brazil, depending how you interpret it, it’s a 4-3-1-2 as well, with Gilberto and Melo holding fort and the likes of Elano-Ramires to break forward when they can behind Kaka. Again, in this construct, Gilberto is the cleaner and Melo is his legs to clean as well. I was a bit disappointed in him vs Egypt, he was sucked in to the ball and it left acres of space for Egypt to switch play and exploit the defence.

    With those two in mind, would he be the perfect partner for Fabregas if that is what people want? I’m not so sure, as a pure holding player, he still has some way to go, his dynamism won’t work all the time. As well the £10m fee will not apply, he will go for closer to the £20m mark as Fiorentina have missed out on targets like Luca Cigarini. Melo may also prefer to stay in Italy in a World Cup year, and i think only Inter Milan could tempt him to move from Fiorentina, who have Champions League football.

    1. Hi There

      I was at Italy Brazil gamein Pretoria Last night and I was wandering who the Number 5 was he looked like Denilson on Steriods.Totally bossed the physical italians andand has great eye for a pass and can header

      Great Player and Great value….another one who would be a great additiona to Arsenal squad is Matthew Booth from SA Wenger can get him in on the cheap.Plus he is 6 ft 5.No nonsense defnder reminds me so much of adams…
      He Clattered torres the first 5 minutes(fairly) of the spain game and torres wasn’t interested.

      1. I thought that of booth as well – he looked quality
        The thing with him is hes not just a powerful “no-nonsense” defender, hes also composed on the ball
        I know it’s only based on one game but he really looks the type of player arsenal have missed since campbell

  2. Inler is a much better player, against Egypt who had legs in midfield, he was given the runaround however it didnt help that Alves & the left back was so poor & were also overattacking as well. I watch alot of Serie A league, i just dont think he is any better than anythng we already have.

  3. Super gunner i kinda agree with you. He is a good player but he is not a holding player. I think Danielson is a better holder than him. He is good at joining the attack with his pace and on set pieces. Him bossing Italy is no biggie as everyone knows Italy is a shadow of its past. Even the US almost outplay Italy. I think as Danielson grows he will be much better. He do looks like Danielson though. I thought he was Danielson when i first saw him play.

  4. I thought this was a good assessment of melo
    he looks to me like he could do the job for arsenal; but for £15m I’d want a lot more for my money and Im sure we could get someone better for that price

  5. thank you so much for doing these scouting reports. some of us dont have the time or the talent to watch the young players arsene looks for.
    i for one would love to see more of these scouting reports in the future as they not only reinforce the message and ideals of the club but also allow some of us to understand the club better.
    it is also purely enjoyable to be able to read level-headed and realistic assessments of players who may or may not be coming to arsenal fc.
    tho this is the case, i think that if these players were not to come to arsenal, the articles might become off-topic. to cure this, i think an article on vermaelen would be appropriate, as he is a player not many of us know about, and one who we would like to keep track of.
    thanks again, john.

    1. Thanks John and below (Bops). Having been underwhelmed by Melo, some work with Wenger could shape him up. It’s his power that’s really got people talking but tactically he’s not much better than Denilson.
      Also, I am to do an article on Vermaelen soon.

      1. Great article, one of the best scouting reports I’ve seen on the web. Detailed and accurate (from what I’ve seen of him). Can’t wait for the Vermaelen piece. If you can keep it to this standard rather than the lighter weight Veloso piece there will be a lot of happy readers. I’ve never noticed the guy so it will be nice to have someone cut through the B.S.

        Great job again, though.

  6. great report !!.. wow at last some rationality..

    He is not quick on his feet.. He is ambling most of the time.. and “not taking ball from the centerbacks” .. spot on !!.. Well if it was between gilberto and melo.. I wud rather resing gilberto..

    I will be very dissappointed if we sign him.. he is not the finished article.. and if we want to mentor him suggest that we do that to denilson and song.. 1 or 2 more seasons and they will be world class..

    Prefer if we get someone who come into the starting 11.. Well not many of them around.. Wish we could get flamini bak.. 😦

  7. Brain, what are your views on Michael Bradley? I have watched him about 5 times (4 times during the tournament, and once prior) and have been nothing but impressed.

    He shows great tenacity, yet discipline, whilst also having a decent range of passing – reminds me very much of Darren Fletcher.

    1. He’s attracted the interest of Everton recently. A hard working player as you well know and also a good passer of the ball.
      He can sit in front of the defence or play as a box-to-box midfielder; I don’t think there’s a better comparison than with Darren Fletcher which means he just may fall short of a top four club but will be a useful top half Premiership player. You never know with such players as it is the mental attributes that can define them.

    2. DaStuDawg:

      I’ve seen a lot of Bradley this season for Gladbach in Germany, and his performances in the Confederations Cup are a glimpse of what he has done there. He has a reputation in being a box-to-box player who has an eye for goal. He has a lot of lung power, and his timing of runs into the box is very similar to Frank Lampard.

      However he needs to iron out his discipline, both tactically and playing wise, in the context of Arsenal, he would fit in. He has better passing than Flamini for instance, better technique than Flamini as well, good industry, and could be relied on to be the water carrier as well as aiding the team chase a late goal.

      On this showing, he’s just made a great advert for himself, but those that watch the Bundesliga know he is a Europa League player at the very least, he is a good player.

      1. Thanks for the replies guys.

        I remember hearing Bradley being touted as the next ‘Big Thing’ in the USA, and managed to catch a glimpse of him at Heerenveen where I thought he looked good.

        However, for me, this tournament, he has been the best player. Perhaps not as naturally gifted or as noticable as the likes of Villa, Kaka or Fabiano, but much like Senna at the last European Championships, he utilises his attributes to full affect.

        He has a great engine, good technique, a great work ethic (covered more ground than anyone else in the tournament), and seems tactically aware for someone of such an age.

        As you say, there are still flaws in his game that need to be ironed out, but at 21, I think he has the potential to go far.

        I’m glad to hear his performances at club level are of a similar standard to the sort of showings he is giving in this tournament, as Wenger himself states you should never purchase a player based on one good tournament alone.

        As for Darren Fletcher, I’ve been one of those who have dismissed him as a potential Top 4 stalwart in past seasons, but last season, he shone as one of the best midfielders in the league. I would love to have him or a player of his ilk at Arsenal, and from what I have seen, Michael Bradley looks like the closest thing to him.

  8. I’ll be going to the game tonight (SA vs Brazil)
    Very impressed with the USA defending I must admit shock result,Bradley had a good game besides his red…..

    Lets see how Melo does and more importantly Booth from SA as I rate arsenal could pick him up for 400k Pounds and would definately add some physicality back defense.

    Another dark horse for Wenger to consider is Kevin Nolan from Newcastle…
    His english premier league proven and can let Cesc do the attacking…

  9. Just like to say that while Booth has been very good for South Africa, they play a very deep, narrow-line.

    At Arsenal, and in the Premiership in general, I imagine a lack of athleticism on his part would be exposed.

    Look how well Onyewu and DeMerit are doing relative to their previous Premiership performances. These are all strong, brave, and aerially dominant players who excel in such a compact system, but our style of play would be a different kettle of fish entirely.

  10. Last night’s game Melo was probably 2nd best Brazilian Player as The Captain Lucio was tops.South AFrica played exteremely well to close down the floating Kaka and Maicon and kept the free flowing football limited.
    As for 20 Million way too much for him 6 million is about accurate his solid and well balanced but i’m sure Arsenal can buy better.

    Booth and co were tested against a Brazil team that demolished italy and they did well.Only thing is he 32 plus side is he could add experience and leadership to our young fleet footed defence…..

    1. Hi. I’m going to disagree about Melo. Lucio is a fantastic player and has been Brazil’s best this tournament but Melo looked distinctly ordinary. Some wayward passing, tackling and never really gave Robinho and Kaka the technical players they so dearly need.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s