Barcelona have confirmed the sale of midfielder Arthur Melo to Juventus for €72 million, with an additional €10 million in add ons on Monday.
Juventus’ midfield engine Miralem Pjanic will move in the opposite direction, but both players will join their new respective clubs at the end of the season.
Arthur joined Barcelona from Gremio in 2018 in a transfer fee worth up to €40 million. Since then, the gifted midfielder has appeared 72 times for the Catalan side across all competitions, scoring four goals in the process.
In the ongoing 2019-20 season, despite struggling with injuries, Arthur has still managed to turn out on 27 occasions, making 17 starts in total.
Although Barcelona swapping 23-year-old Arthur for Pjanic, who is on the wrong side of 30, is considered to be more of a business move than a tactical shift, it has certainly managed to make the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
So, here we have analyzed Arthur Melo’s time at Barcelona since his arrival from Gremio two years back.
An impressive start:
Arthur made a name for himself while playing in a defensive midfielder’s role at Gremio, averaging 74.1 passes per game with a success rate of 93.2 %.
For Barcelona, the versatile midfielder inherited the role of club legend, Andres Iniesta, and has often been deployed as a number 8, playing on the left-hand side of the midfield three.
However, the 23-year-old made the minute adjustment to fit into Barcelona’s starting XI and hit the ground running with his terrific control and passing in the middle of the park.
In his first Champions League appearance for the club, Arthur attracted the attention of many by imposing a measure of control in Barcelona’s chaotic midfield.
Arthur again earned plaudits with his stellar performance against Real Madrid in his first-ever Clasico appearance. The way he controlled the midfield line was astonishing to witness, dominating the likes of Luka Modric and Toni Kroos with ease.
He became an overnight success in Catalonia, and Barcelona’s quest to find a ball playing midfielder seemed to be over with Arthur’s arrival.
Ingrained “Barca DNA” and comparison with Xavi
Known for his excellent ball control and dribbling attributes, Arthur is a complete midfielder, who is capable of playing in a variety of roles, ranging from a deep-lying midfielder to a box-to-box midfielder.
Arthur has also mastered the art of using a feint called “la peolopina”, which was often performed by his predecessors – Xavi and Iniesta – at Barcelona.
Despite not graduating from La Masia, Arthur’s agility, technical movement – both on and off the ball, and his exceptional vision earned him the tag of a perfect Barcelona midfielder with a “Barca DNA” ingrained in him.
Even though Arthur was given the famous number 8 shirt of Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, the Brazilian’s playing style mimicked the way Xavi used to ply his trade for the La Liga giants.
Just like Xavi, Arthur is blessed with the gift of time and space. His exceptional vision, playmaking ability, and precise passing have also earned him huge praise from his Barcelona captain Lionel Messi in the past.
“Arthur, I didn’t know that much about but he seems similar to Xavi. He’s very safe and trustworthy. He has the La Masia style. Playing short passes, without losing the ball, and he grasped it quickly, the dynamic of the team.”
Slowly fading away
Despite starting his Barcelona career on a high, Arthur has failed to cement his place in the Barcelona starting XI with time, due to several on and off-field issues.
The midfielder has already missed a huge chunk of this season’s football after suffering numerous injuries, thus making him unavailable for selection.
The 23-year-old was sidelined for several days after taking a knock in his knee back in the month of November last year.
The Brazilian was then diagnosed with a pain in his pubis after returning from the international break in December, missing out on 44 days of action.
Arthur also suffered an ankle injury, which ruled him out for another two matches, back in the month of March just before the COVID-19-enforced break took place.
Just like his on-field woes, Arthur’s life outside football has also attracted unwanted attention due to his reckless way of living. The midfielder has been accused of not living a proper athlete’s life on multiple occasions in the past.
The Brazilian was alleged to be guilty of snowboarding, an activity which is not compatible with football, and was left out of the squad by former Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde for that very reason back in the month of December.
So, to sum it up, from being compared with legends like Xavi to making way for new arrivals like Miralem Pjanic, Arthur has become the latest addition to the long list of unsuccessful Barcelona transfers in recent years, despite showing glimpses of brilliance.