Barcelona’s transfer strategy over the years has taken some criticism. It has seen expensive players leave on a short-term basis after they failed to work out. This has seen the club sink to a big debt and lose funds because of failed transfer moves. It has come to a point where they can’t afford to make failed moves anymore and in that sense, losing Arthur will not make sense, a thought process backed by Melbet Review Nigeria in their most recent update.
Latest reports have linked the Catalans with a move for Miralem Pjanic in a swap deal involving Arthur himself. Others have stated that Sergi Roberto could be the player on the move instead of Arthur, but the intention from the club seems to be that they are interested in Pjanic in some regard.
There is no doubt about the Bosnian’s abilities. While he has been struggling in a deep anchor-man role under Maurizio Sarri after doing well earlier in the season, he is still a quality player. He has won Juventus games against Brescia, Bologna and SPAL this season, often setting the base for Sarri’s technical 4-3-1-2 shape.
He has always been that technical midfield package, who sets the ball rolling by dictating play and using his ability on the ball for that. For a good part of the campaign, he did that job for the Old Lady before Rodrigo Bentancur trumped him for the anchor-man role weeks before Serie A was suspended.
But Pjanic is 30 and like the Antoine Griezmann deal, doesn’t have a resale value in the future. If Barca do sign him, they will have a player who suits Quique Setien’s system. But for a club that is in big debt, it won’t make much sense financially despite how good the former Roma man can be on his day.
Arthur, on the other hand, has had an improved campaign this season. The Brazilian impressed under Ernesto Valverde, and so far he has picked up three goals and just as many assists in La Liga. It has been the highest tally in his career and a sign of how he’s improved in his second season at the club.
Valverde had praised Arthur for how he adjusted into the team last year. The former manager said:
“He’s a player who has some characteristics that fit well with the team. Maybe he would’ve had more difficulties in other teams.
“He’s done very well here. He came from playing too many games, had a long-term injury last season, then playing in the national team.
“His career has taken a turn here and we hope for even more from him.”
On his signature from Gremio, many saw Arthur as the ‘next Andres Iniesta’ for his ability on the ball. The first season saw him adapt to the league and a higher standard, as the Brazilian got just a single assist and was only learning the trade.
But last campaign was a developing period to this campaign when he has become a more dynamic midfield package. He completed only 0.6 dribbles per 90 minutes last season, but it has risen to 2.6 per 90 this season. He now plays one key pass per 90 minutes and that too is more than last season. He has only taken off from an impressive Copa America in Brazil and after struggling with injuries last season, a regular run in the team has helped him.
Valverde’s system wasn’t the most Barcelona-like at all. It was more pragmatic than what a technical player like Arthur would like. But Setien has earned a reputation for moulding creative and technical midfielders. Be it Fabian Ruiz or Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso, they upped their level under Setien himself at Real Betis. And Arthur is that technical outlet that suits the way Setien’s teams play.
And unlike Pjanic, he offers a potential resale value. If not resale value, the signs are strong that he will only improve. He is only 23 and the possibilities are endless. If Setien works his magic with Arthur, there is a chance he reaches the same level as Pjanic himself.
But if Barca do swap Arthur with Pjanic, it will present another short-term approach on their part. They’d let go of a long-term project in Arthur for an ageing player like Pjanic. That is the sort of business that has let them down and any deal like that just can’t happen.