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.
Should Barcelona trust Oscar Mingueza more often?
Barcelona are going through their worst period ever. The Catalan giants have suffered from an institutional crisis, an injury crisis, an economic crisis and a lack of tactical awareness. For a club that was on top of Europe a decade ago, the shift in mood is gloomy, to say the least.
However, even during times of grief, there is always some light. There are no never-ending tunnels, and often, crisis leads to solutions. Some solutions are more radical, while others show their faces step by step.
To answer Barcelona’s injury problems, one that surrounded Gerard Piqué, Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo, one man came to Barcelona’s rescue. The absentees forced Ronald Koeman’s hand in giving Oscar Mingueza his well-deserved Barcelona debut against Dynamo Kyiv.
The defender is a tall 21-year-old who has been through every La Masia team. Ever since he turned 7, the Spaniard has been waiting for his chance, and Piqué’s horrible injury propelled him into getting his long-awaited opportunity. Away in Ukraine, the youngster showed a lot of promise. Vocal, superb with his feet and calm with his head, Mingueza was one of the best Blaugrana players on the pitch.
As captain of Barcelona B, Oscar Mingueza is one of the most experienced CBs in the youth sides. (Photo via Imago)
The situation was precarious for Barça at first. They went in with a makeshift defence and dominated the encounter. The same defence proceeded to frustrate the Ukrainians.
In truth, the La Masia graduate showed much more than just a promise, he showed a lot of character. Mingueza looked like a natural, as Jordi Alba said; like a player in his prime rather than a rookie.
Now, after catching everyone’s eyes, the debutant has to continue to mirror that display in order to become a mainstay. His display on Tuesday has given a lot of hope to Culés and could be the answer to many questions. He could become a reliable backup or, if he still shows this level of performance, become a regular. It is up to him to show if he is up for the fight.
Usually for Barcelona, when things go South, they are uncontrollable. The recent displays, along with the accumulations of injuries, have shown that when it rains, it pours at Camp Nou.
When Leo Messi goes down injured, for example, the Catalans look worried and anxious because they have no replacement. Having a big squad sometimes does not mean having a complete squad. Every team needs to know where they are headed and who will play in case of a watershed during the season. However, the giants finally have a complete squad.
Ronald Koeman left out Frenkie de Jong and Messi against Kyiv, and the Blaugranas were able to take control of the situation in their absence. The Dutch midfielder is also the usual suspect when a defender goes down injured. On Tuesday, Koeman might have discovered an alternative to de Jong at centre-back.
Indeed, Mingueza is not the finished product. He needs time to grow and cannot play every game like a veteran. He has to be embedded intelligently in the squad.
Nonetheless, in desperate times, the ball-playing centre-back looks like a great alternative. His attitude showed many signs of ripeness, and he can at least help when his club needs him. As a La Masia graduate, Mingueza will fit right in.
Also, as a youth player, the defender costs next to nothing compared to Umtiti’s salary, for example. Having a cheap alternative which has been waiting for this chance since he was a kid is the way to go. If Barcelona want to go back to their roots, they have to trust Mingueza.
📰 — Mingueza played a very good game vs Kyiv, and his great performance could earn him a starting spot alongside Lenglet against Osasuna on Sunday. [md] pic.twitter.com/bZHhWeLFiw— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) November 25, 2020
Finally, it is worth noting that this was one game, and so the sample size is incredibly tiny. That said, no one starts with a dominating display against Atletico Madrid right off the bat.
Would the 21-year-old have had a Man of the Match performance on Saturday if Piqué was not a starter? Is it plausible to have blind faith in a youngster after one impressive display? Surely not.
After making his debut a memorable one, Oscar Mingueza needs to come in strong against the bigger guns and help Barcelona fill in for Pique, whose void is a behemoth. He can achieve it and have a bright future at Camp Nou if he keeps his feet on the ground. It all starts with another superb performance against Osasuna this weekend.