The situation of Arthur Melo at Barcelona continues to provide never-ending rumours and fumes of development for the media to pounce onto. Despite Juventus stepping up their interest in him, Arthur needs to stay focused on the challenges his club has ahead.
As the rumours of a swap deal between Barcelona’s Arthur Melo and Juventus’ Miralem Pjanić continue to get stronger, all parties involved should maintain the focus on the on-field action as they run the risk of losing attention at a crucial stage of the season. For Arthur, in particular, he can still be very valuable for coach Quique Setién and has time to prove that he deserves to stay at the Camp Nou.
The story so far
At this point, the rumours on Arthur’s future are no longer surprising. Over the past few weeks, Juventus were showing signs of moving in the transfer market. They are in desperate need to find a regista, or deep-lying creator, without which manager Maurizio Sarri won’t be able to implement his system. Even though Miralem Pjanić is continually being used in that role, he is unable to fulfil it to the entirety of its requirements. As a result of this, Juve decided to look for alternatives. While Sarri’s eternally favourite Jorginho continues to be looked at, it is Arthur who they badly want.
However, Arthur has stated over and over again that he has no intentions of leaving the Catalan outfit. He is only into his second season at the Camp Nou and has high expectations and hopes of succeeding. Unfortunately for him, the current regime’s unpredictability doesn’t guarantee his future despite publicly stating that he wants to stay.
“There will always be rumours, but I’m honestly really clear about the fact that the only option I’m interested in is staying in Barcelona”
on his future
From the coach’s perspective, there is nothing but ambiguity. Quique Setién claims to have spoken to Arthur about his future, but also says that he isn’t focusing on the transfer market. The Spanish tactician believes that this isn’t the right time to be focusing on rumours. He intends to see every single player giving his best in the current title race.
“We certainly discussed his future, but not for very long. Many circumstances are affecting the transfer market this summer, but the reality right now, is that we still have objectives to achieve this season and I will need help from everyone in the squad
We are in the running for La Liga and the Champions League. I don’t want to speculate right now, as we have to focus on the current challenges”
on Arthur’s future
Setién’s quotes don’t seem to show signs of confidence. Naturally, he is bound to steer clear of the rumours at a period where he needs to focus on football. Nevertheless, the fact that he hasn’t confirmed that Arthur is staying for sure is an indication that even he may not know what is going to happen. There is a possibility that he is brushing the rumours aside because he has no clarity of the situation.
The task ahead
Indeed, the lack of certainty over Arthur’s future is something worth worrying about. The board has a proven record of making disappointing and horrendous sporting decisions, and so, losing Arthur won’t be a surprise. Still, the fans, the manager, and most importantly, Arthur, should know that other significant areas require attention.
At the moment, Barcelona sits at second-place, with Real Madrid on top because of the head-to-head record. Having already suffered an injury blow of losing Frenkie de Jong for an unspecified time, Arthur is now crucial for the days ahead. He has the technical capabilities to move the ball forwards in addition to his unbelievable press-resistance. Though Setién has options to replace Frenkie, the midfield likely becomes more static without him.
While a swap between Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanić is certainly on the cards, both should try to keep their head on the game | Photo by Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage via Imago
With eight critical games ahead, more lacklustre performances like the one against Sevilla a few days ago would virtually put the title in Real Madrid’s hands. While the club is inclined to turn to Lionel Messi in times of need, the Argentine cannot be left to do everything on his own. He needs support, especially from the midfield. Setién will be hoping to see senior players like Iván Rakitić step up to the occasion.
Notwithstanding, in reality, it’s Arthur who is most likely to solve the midfield problems. He hasn’t been playing much this season because of injuries, but now that he is fit, Setién will probably start him. The Brazilian has already shown the world what he is capable of. And so, he is expected to do well now, especially when the midfield options are thin.
Winning the La Liga and the Champions League is still not out of hands. So, Arthur must look to help his side by entirely focussing on Barcelona. Indeed, the rumours are always distractive, but he shouldn’t let them get the better of him. He should prove it to the media and those who speculate his exit by performing on the pitch. The same intensity that he displayed while saying that he wants to stay must be carried onto the pitch.
Why is Juventus’ board so persistent?
Before the restart, there were just whispers from one or two outlets regarding Juve’s interest in Arthur. But, once football returned to Italy, through the Coppa Italia, it became clear that they badly need a regista. The Bianconerri’s humiliating and dull performances in the semi-final against AC Milan and the final versus Napoli gave the board something to think about.
Sarri’s 4–3–3 system works for the initial 15–20 minutes. But once the game settles down and the intensity begins to drop, the midfield starts to get static. They don’t have the deep-lying playmaker to sit in front of the centre-backs and distribute the ball gradually upfield. As a result of this, most of their games tend to go low-scoring, unless they get individual brilliance from Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala.
Miralem Pjanić isn’t capable of this role, and he is also 30. And so, their board is trying to make a double whammy to Barcelona by swapping him for Arthur. Clearly, the azulgranas will be the losers from this deal, as they will not only lose a talented player but also get an older one. And although Pjanić is a wonderful player, he doesn’t suit the Catalans profile.
Furthermore, Juve’s director Fabio Paratici says that both Arthur and Pjanić must be convinced to move the other way.
“We have spoken frequently with Barcelona, but at this moment all the teams are playing important games, so we preferred to bypass this period
It’s not about June 30, before or after, but about finding an agreement between the various parties, and both players have to be convinced. Therefore, it’s not an issue about dates”
Juventus sporting director on the Arthur–Pjanić swap
Such a high profile source updating Sky Sports Italia on the situation is an indication that the Italian outfit has increased their interests. The likelihood of Juventus coming back with an improved offer is high. And it wouldn’t be surprising if Barça’s board decides to accept the offer with motives of funding the Lautaro Martínez deal or bringing Neymar Júnior back. At some point, Arthur might get the feeling that the club doesn’t value him as much as he loves them. And so, he might get convinced to move to Italy because of how interested they are.
The focus right now must definitely have to be on finishing the season on a high. Retaining the Spanish crown and then focusing on the Champions League must be the only agendas on Arthur’s mind. Juventus also have the Serie A and Champions League to focus on, so Pjanić must also only think about the issues on the pitch.
The fear that Arthur might get swayed by Juve’s project and the role he could be offered is evident. But at least momentarily, the best thing for both parties is to worry about their current clubs. The negotiations with the Old Lady can wait, and for now, Arthur must only keep his head in the game.
3 Players Barcelona can sell to ease their financial burden
A debt of €1.173 billion, more than €700 million of which is short term, has sent FC Barcelona down a rabbit hole. The club’s gross mismanagement on both sporting as well as financial levels is no longer a secret. The former board of directors, led by president Josep Maria Bartomeu has consistently spent inordinate amounts of money on ludicrous signings. Most of which have come to bite the club back.
Now, they find themselves in a stickier situation than ever, with an astronomically high wage bill and multiple liabilities to clubs across Europe for signings. In addition, Lionel Messi’s future at Barcelona hangs in the balance. If the club are to conduct any business whatsoever, it will have to begin by offloading a few players.
After Ronald Koeman arrived at the club following the disastrous end to the 2019-20 season, a few key names have already been sold. As the initiation of a rebuilding process, Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Nelson Semedo, and Ivan Rakitic were all sold. However, these departures have hardly put a dent in Barcelona’s debt.
That being said, Barça Universal takes a look at three potential sales that might help the club with their finances. Players who may not be key parts of the sporting project long term and whose departures will allow for some breathing room in the wage structure, and allow Barcelona to sign a huge talent such as Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland.
It would be a rather disappointing conclusion to what was potentially a wonderful signing. Samuel Umtiti, after signing for Barcelona, was rapidly rising up the ranks as one of the world’s best centre-backs. After his move from Lyon in 2016, he was flying high and quickly displayed why he staked a claim into the Blaugrana’s starting lineup.
But the Frenchman’s fairytale would come to an abrupt halt. After a fantastic second season with Barcelona, Umtiti suffered an injury to his left knee in 2018, just a month before the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The defender risked himself to represent his nation, and it ended up being a positive decision as France lifted the coveted prize with Umtiti as one of the key players. He decided not to have surgery as he felt it would worsen his issues.
Ever since then, despite his initial impressions, the injury woes have persisted and have led to many complications. Recurring issues with his meniscus, followed by foot injuries and many other issues, led to a massive decline in form and physicality. The centre-back was never really able to return to his brilliant best. While coach Ronald Koeman does favour the Frenchman, he is definitely not a consistently reliable presence at the back anymore.
Umtiti’s current deal with Barcelona expires in 2023, and given that he is 27 years old may work in favour of the club. He is not too old, and while he is injury-free, he could fetch Barcelona at least some money. The World Cup winner at his best is a fine player, but given the current circumstances, Barcelona can no longer afford to leave things up to chance.
Philippe Coutinho came to Spain with tremendous promise for the fans, backed up by a huge smile on his face. He was genuinely happy to be where he was. His dream of playing for Barcelona was finally a reality. But that optimism sadly did not last far too long.
The midfielder slowed down tremendously in his first full season with the Catalans. He looked out of sorts and lost in strange and unfamiliar systems. When he arrived in January of 2018 from Liverpool, he became Barcelona’s most expensive signing of all time for over €140 million. After two bad seasons and a loan spell at Bayern Munich, he was finally beginning to show small signs of promise under Ronald Koeman this term.
However, the Brazilian has also been sidelined due to a lengthy injury this season, which has extended into worse news. In addition to that, Liverpool are reportedly one of the clubs that Barcelona still owe money to in variables for Coutinho’s transfer. They will be keen on avoiding any more liabilities. And since Coutinho has obviously not come anywhere close to providing a return on Barcelona’s investment in him, his time at the club may be up.
He is also one of the highest earners in the squad, therefore selling him might be imperative.
The midfielder turned right-back has been a polarising figure in the Barcelona fans’ eyes for quite some time now. The 29-year-old’s current contract with Barcelona is set to run out next year and has a release clause of a massive €500 million. Roberto has made some amazing memories with the club, most prominently, his iconic goal against PSG in 2017’s famous ‘Remontada’.
However, since then he has been more or less showing that he is mostly just a utility player. The Spaniard has been unremarkable in a fair few games and has often made rather costly errors. Over time however, he had certainly become one of the heavyweights in the dressing room, which obviously reflects in his salary. This season, he has been struggling with a thigh injury, which he recovered from but then relapsed.
He was a valuable asset to have in the absence of a full fledged right-back who has the so-called ‘Barcelona DNA’. However, with the arrival of Sergino Dest, parting ways with Roberto makes sense from both sporting and financial perspectives.
While Roberto might not be among the players who have constantly underperformed but selling him might be a logical decision for Barcelona because as a player who can play in multiple positions across the pitch, and is in his theoretical prime, the Spaniard will be in demand. Football today requires for players to adapt in various positions and roles, and we have seen Roberto’s capability with the same.
Additionally, as one of the captains of the team, the La Masia graduate might be able to lease off a more than decent amount of cash. Several top teams in the market, including Juventus, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and PSG, among others, might be vouching for a right-back soon and could look towards Sergi Roberto.
However, there are also more players like Jordi Alba, Junior Firpo and Neto who could be smart sales. Alba has also been declining rapidly but his offensive output has not yet been replaced. Firpo is already linked to a move away to various clubs after failing to impress at Barcelona. In a nutshell, the Blaugrana certainly have options to sell, in order to continue the rebuild effectively. Easing the financial load by selling and eventually making way for more sensible transfers will be vital for this transitioning side.