Since he was acquired on loan from Brazilian side Sao Paulo FC on Feb. 10, midfielder Artur has been in a whirlwind.
He was waiting for his paperwork to clear in order to join his new Columbus Crew SC team for preseason, but things kept getting delayed. During the Black & Gold’s final preseason trip to Charleston S.C., head coach Gregg Berhalter said the team had a flight ready to go for Artur whenever he was cleared to depart.
Crew SC went through the majority of the week, and played two games, in Charleston without the new addition arriving.
Finally, the 20-year old Brazilian received clearance and arrived on Saturday morning. He quickly showed the type of ambition that has helped make him an exciting, young talent.
“He flew in on Saturday and wanted to play in the game against Seattle,” Berhalter said of Artur and the Black & Gold’s final preseason contest. “He wanted to get put in the game.
“He’s Brazilian. Brazilians love to play.”
For Artur, he was just glad to be with his new club and three days later, he was pleased with how his first practice, in a cold and rainy Columbus, went.
“I’m really happy to be here and it was a really good training session,” Artur said through a translator.
“I’m really impressed with the team and think that we have everything to have a great season. And of course because of the cold I’m a little impressed with that as well, but I think I’m going to get better soon.”
The move to join the Black & Gold will certainly be an adjustment for Artur. While Major League Soccer is becoming a more global game, it is yet to make much of an impact in Brazil. This meant Artur didn’t know what to expect of the league or Columbus.
The weather, as he mentioned, is one thing — it was 90 degrees in his hometown of Brumado on Monday — but he also speaks only a little English and is behind the eight ball on getting to know his teammates after missing so much of the preseason.
“Everybody on the field is trying to help me because of the language issues,” he said of his transition. “Everybody is trying to help me in every kind of thing on the field. Off the field as well, the staff, the players and Jonathan Mensah, I’m sharing a room with Mensah in the hotel, so we’re connecting.”
One thing he and his teammates all have in common is soccer, or futbol as Artur knows it. That is one language they all speak and he finally got the chance to get out on the field to communicate through playing on Monday.
This is what the Brazilian is looking forward to the most. At a club such as Sao Paulo FC the midfield tends to become crowded with talent and Artur became a victim of that.
He said this year-long loan presents a rare opportunity to get first-team minutes in a competitive league. He also has the right mentality coming into a group that’s attempting to rebound from a disappointing season.
“I want to bring my experience and do whatever Gregg tells me to on the field,” Artur said. “And I hope to help the team to win a championship this year.”
If you get a sense of confidence from the Brazilian, you’re not wrong. He maybe only be 20 years old, but he lives and breaths soccer and knows what he can do in a game.
“My characteristic is marking,” Artur described himself. “I’m a player that marks a lot. I move a lot with and without the ball. I hope to help a lot in the attack as a surprising player in the attacking zone. And a player I compare myself to is Arturo Vidal from Bayern Munich.”
Vidal is one of the world’s best central midfielders, having played 86 times with 20 goals for Chile, so this is quite the comparison from the young player. But the Brazilians have always been confident and talented when it comes to soccer and Artur is no different.
“Artur is, I think, a very dynamic midfielder,” Berhalter said when the signing was announced. “I’m excited to see how he translates to this league. We knew pretty early on that he’s a kid with talent. I watched him play last November with the U-20s in the U-20 Championship and he’s a good player.”
He won’t face the same challenge for playing time in the midfield as at Sao Paulo, but Crew SC are getting a bit crowded in the center of the park as well.
Along with returning players Wil Trapp and Tony Tchani, Columbus brought in Mohammed Abu and youngster Abuchi Obinwa. While Obinwa is expected to go on loan to develop, these four, including Artur, will compete for time and that’s fine by the Brazilian.
“I learned a lot from the sessions (at Sao Paulo), but I also think I have a lot to learn from the players here as well,” he said. “I’m bringing in some experience from there, but I have a lot to learn here as well.”
With the delay in his arrival, Artur’s timetable to get on the field may have changed. Although confident, eager and talented, he must get acclimated to his teammates and the style of play, which he said is similar to what they played with Sao Paulo, and also earn a spot.
Taking all of that into account and Berhatler is not ruling out Artur making his debut during Saturday’s season-opening match against the Chicago Fire.
“I’d like to see where we can get him to by the weekend,” the head coach said.
“We’ll see what happens on Saturday.”
With a player with his potential, it’s hard to keep him off the field and Artur is excited to finally get out there and play with his new team.