Liverpool's Deadline Day singing Arthur Melo has continued to his road to the first team by making an appearance in the Papa John's Trophy.
Arthur has one Reds appearance to his name as a late substitute during Liverpool's loss to Napoli earlier this month. And the Brazilian was back in action for Liverpool's U21 side as they squared off with Rochdale on Tuesday evening.
The former Brazilian international lasted just over an hour before he was hauled off for returning star Jay Spearing. The Englishman rejoined the Anfield club over the summer primarily in a coaching role in the Reds' academy.
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The Papa John's Trophy is supposed to offer Premier League clubs the chance to blood youngsters. So fans were a little surprised to see Arthur not only start the match, but get subbed off for 33-year-old Spearing.
"Imagine seeing this tweet six months ago and wondering what the f*** had happened. Arthur Melo off, Jay Spearing on, for Liverpool U21s," one fan tweeted.
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"Giving them kids a good run out to gain experience. What a competition," another joked. While a third added: "After winning all trophies under Jurgen Klopp, this is the status of LFC in 2022 ladies and Gentlemen!"
A fourth tweeted: "Didn’t think when we signed former Barcelona and Juventus player Arthur Melo that I would read 'Jay Spearing replaces him'."
Although the EFL Trophy should primarily be used by Premier League sides as a development competition, top-flight clubs are allowed to include two players over the age of 21 who have made 40 or more senior appearances prior to 2019-20 season.
But even with Arthur's presence for the best part of an hour, Liverpool suffered defeat at Spotland. Rochdale broke the deadlock in the 82nd minute through Tahvon Campbell – who produced a beautiful lob to push the Dale into the lead.
And Liverpool weren't able to find an answer, with their task getting even harder two minutes later when Oludare Olufunwa brought Campbell down in the area for his marching orders.
Despite Luke Hewitson brilliantly stopping Ian Henderson from 12 yards, Liverpool were knocked out of the cup.
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