Valverde hints Arthur could return for Barca in Copa Clasico
Barcelona midfielder Arthur could make his return from a hamstring injury in Wednesday's Copa del Rey semi-final second leg against Real Madrid, coach Ernesto Valverde hinted.
The Brazil international has looked the part in his first season at Camp Nou, fitting seamlessly into their midfield and even drawing comparisons with club icon Xavi.
Barca announced on February 8 that Arthur had suffered a hamstring strain which was predicted to keep him out for a month, thus forcing him to miss the Clasico double-header, with the fierce rivals also set to meet in LaLiga on Saturday.
But Valverde suggested that he could be back on Wednesday for the Copa trip to the Santiago Bernabeu.
"He's a lot better," Valverde told reporters in a news conference on Tuesday. "He did some training yesterday.
"I don't know how he dealt with it - we'll analyse that in today's session. I wasn't really planning for him to be back for this game.
"We'd like to have him back for Saturday. There's a chance he'll be ready [for Wednesday]. He's a different kind of player. He brings something different to our midfield.
"Arthur's a great player and he's done a lot of good for us, but there have also been games where he's played and we haven't done so well.
"We had a great game at Lyon, but we just didn't take our chances. Yes, he's different to any other player, but we have to accept it when he's not there and try to deal with it.
"It's a decisive game, and we'll play the best team we can to win the game."
Vinicius Junior was lively in his Clasico debut for Madrid in the first leg earlier this month and is expected to start again on Wednesday, having impressed in recent weeks.
Valverde recognises the young Brazilian can make the difference, though he pointed out Madrid have plenty of others who can do damage if Vinicius does not feature.
"I wouldn't say he changes the team if he's in it or not, but he is certainly a decisive player," Valverde said.
"When their play drops a little, he lifts it, but if he doesn't play, [Marco] Asensio will play, or [Gareth] Bale or Isco. Vinicius is not their only player."