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Arthur, a better option than Pjanić for the long-term…and short-term too

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Header Image by Marco Luzzani via Getty Images

Reportedly, Barcelona and Juventus are studying a swap between Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanić, but, from the culés’ point of view, the Brazilian should be going nowhere.


For his lack of continuity, due to injuries and also a certain lack of consistency on the pitch, the fans’ general view of Arthur Melo tends to differ a bit from the actual reality. Often seen as a risk-averse, irregular and disorganised midfielder, the Brazilian does have all the qualities to develop into an excellent interior for the azulgranas‘ needs. In fact, he may even possess some virtues many people believe that he lacks in order to become a better player. These include his peripheral vision, his personality, his agility to drive the ball forward, his gift in tight spaces to occupy more advanced zones, or his creativity to deliver a final pass or even get close to the goal. If he is taught some missing concepts properly, Arthur can undoubtedly become an intelligent, positional and inventive midfielder that not only protects possession, but gives intentionality to it through forward-thinking and determined plays.

However, the latest reports seem to suggest that the Barcelona directives don’t value Melo that much. According to RAC1, the Catalans and Juventus may even be proposing a player exchange between Arthur himself and Miralem Pjanić. While the authenticity of such rumours is questionable, as Barça’s number 8 stated just a few days ago that he has no intention of leaving, the board has been seen execute much stranger deals in the past. In any case, regardless of the likelihood of this transfer, it just proves how little does the technical secretary take into consideration the existing squad footballers for the long-term plans. Unfairly so.

❛ I thank Inter for their interest. It’s an honour that they’re interested in me, but my stage at Barça has not yet ended I’m only thinking about Barcelona. I am very comfortable at the club and in the city. Honestly, I see myself dressed in blaugrana colours for many years ❜

Arthur Melo

When comparing Arthur with Pjanić, many would be surprised to see that the former is in most aspects statistically better than the latter in terms of progressive passing. The Bosnian has more expected assists (0.9 to 0.1) and key passes (1.3 to 0.8) per game, as well as being much better in the defensive side, than the South American. Nonetheless, while initially being an attack-minded playmaker, Miralem has been deployed more as a holding midfielder or regista in recent times. From there he dictates play and distributes from deep. Notwithstanding, that’s not what Barça need. Busquets and De Jong already thrive in deep zones, and the pivot role is more than covered already. Not to mention that Pjanić has not been enjoying his best season lately, and at 30 years of age he’s not getting any younger.

Arthur Melo Barcelona Miralem Pjanić Juventus

Statistical comparison between Arthur and Pjanić, via @LaMasiaNostra

If anything, the blaugranas need a player that can add a different height in midfield. Someone like Aleñá, even Riqui or Rafinha, or Arthur is much more suited to that role than Pjanić at present. With more successful dribbles (2.41 to 0.73), more smart passes (0.46 to 0.22) and more accurate passes into the final third (9.09 to 8.74) per match, Arthur improves Miralem when it comes to transitioning the ball forward. Pjanić certainly is an unbelievable footballer, especially at his prime a couple of years ago, but Barça must start planning ahead. Even for immediate results Melo continues to be the better fit.

Arthur Melo Barcelona Miralem Pjanić Juventus

Progressive passing from Arthur and Pjanić, via @LaMasíaNostra

Currently one of Barcelona’s greatest problems is that its best midfielders all need to be deployed at the base of the midfield, and the one that has the most capacity to play further up the pitch, in 23-year-old Arthur, is apparently linked with an exchange for another player that also likes to occupy deep areas, in 30-year-old Pjanić. Neither tactically nor for the long-term plans does swapping the Brazilian for the Bosnian make much sense. The Barcelona board should stop chasing instant success and start focusing on the prospects they have at home, as they run the risk of badly ruining the future.


See also

Barcelona should teach and develop, not transfer, Arthur

• Ousmane Dembélé: A perplexing prospect

• Full-backs and counter-attacks: the Kryptonite of Barça

As someone once said, football is the most important of the least important things in life. Football, though, is a passion lived 24 hours, 7 days a week. My life could not be understood without Barça. Having always lived in Barcelona, the deep love for this club was transmitted to me from before I can remember. With an affection that can be found in my most profound roots, my goal now is to share this admiration with other football enthusiasts.

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Five players that Barcelona could off-load in order to sign Erling Haaland

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Photo via Imago

In Catalonia, many news outlets are reporting that President-elect Joan Laporta is keen to bring the Norwegian sensation, Erling Braut Haaland, to Barcelona. Laporta’s excellent ties with Haaland’s agent Mino Raiola are known throughout the footballing fraternity. He is keen to use this cordial relationship to bring probably one of the most talented young centre-forwards to Camp Nou.

Haaland’s Contract situation

There have been many rumours about Haaland’s contract and his release clause. It’s said that Dortmund have let in known privately that Haaland’s contract includes a release clause of €75 Million. However, this is valid only from 2022; if any club wishes to sign him before, they need to open talks with Borussia Dortmund and his agent Mino Raiola.

With all said, it looks certain that almost every big club in the world will be looking to land this deal which is rumoured to cost €110 Million. Barcelona’s precarious financial situation means that Laporta and his team needs to make a decision to make some big sales in order to complete the dream of signing Haaland. We take a look at 5 players that Barca can sell in order to get the required funds.

Phillipe Coutinho

The market value of the Brazilian currently stands around €47 Million. After his very successful loan spell at Bayern Munich, he publicly stated that he was determined to make it big at Barcelona. Ronald Koeman also said that he admires the qualities Coutinho has and would be an integral part of his project. However, six months into the season, it seems that the Brazilian has gone out of favour at the club. The emergence of Pedri and Moriba also doesn’t help his case. It has been reported that if Coutinho plays 100 matches for the Blaugranes, the club will need to pay an additional €20 Million to Liverpool.

Photo by Vitalii Vitleo Kliuiev via Imago

Given the fact that Barcelona have many parasitic clauses in the contract with former Liverpool player, it’s very doubtful that any club would be willing to offer what his market value is. A long term injury which has forced him out for a big chunk of the season will also play a part in deciding the transfer sum the Catalan club can get in the transaction.

Antoine Griezmann

The French forward has not been able to fit perfectly in the system Barcelona plays, he has produced some good performances in the new year, but lacks the ability to move the ball quickly and take on defenders. Former Barca legend, Hristo Stoichkov, had some very harsh words for Griezzy, “Whenever Griezmann is on the pitch, Barcelona play with ten players. If they want to do something in the long term, they have to sell him. Trincao and Braithwaite must be on the team. What is Griezmann doing there?”, said the Bulgarian to Marca.

Photo via Imago

Griezmann is currently valued at €58 Million, given his wonderful finishing and relentless work off the ball, many big clubs might be interested in getting his services. The French forward will turn 30 this month, a number many clubs will be looking at very closely while making their decision to sign him.

Martin Braithwaite

The Danish forward, without any doubt, is a very hardworking player and has improved on various skills of forward play in his time at Barcelona. With that said, it’s a no brainer to realise the fact that he cannot be Barcelona’s only No.9. Many PL clubs from the bottom half are rumoured to be fond of the former Leganes man. With Barcelona targeting Sergio Aguero and Memphis Depay, the danish would certainly become a fringe player and the club will be open to hearing offers for him.

Junior Firpo

The Dominican Republic fullback was brought in with the motive to give Jordi Alba some competition at the left-back spot. Under all the three managers Barcelona has had during his tenure at the club did not play him much. Barcelona were open to selling him in the January window itself with Inter Milan in the pole position to acquire his services. However, due to some personal reasons, the move was stalled and Junior ended up staying for the remainder of the season.

Miralem Pjanic

The Bosnian midfielder was part of what one can say the worst deal that Barcelona has ever made. It’s a relatively known fact that Pjanic was a part of the deal which was meant to ‘balance the books’ by the Bartomeu administration. The former Juventus man has failed to add anything new to the squad and has been out of favour for a long time now. A deal that would see him go to some other big club in Europe would benefit both parties.

The Twist: Leo Messi

After the very unfortunate leaking of Messi’s contract, the entire world is aware of the astronomical contract he has. If the Argentine wizard decides to leave eventually at the end of the season, the club will surely free a very big amount from the wage bill which can be used to make some necessary additions to this squad.

It remains to be seen how things will pan out in the coming summer, but one thing is for sure that Barcelona needs to clear a lot of their squad depth in order to realize the dream to bring the Haaland to Camp Nou.

A thing that can be said with certainty is that Laporta is keen to make the signing of Haaland a reality, and come July, Barca will be into the most important transfer window of their history which will shape the future of the club for many years to come.

Stats from Transfermarkt.com

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