Barcelona and Juventus have announced that a deal has been agreed to swap Arthur for Miralem Pjanic for the new season.
The Italian champions will pay €72 million + a potential €10 million in add-ons for the Brazilian midfielder, but will then receive around €60 million + a potential €5 million for their Bosnian playmaker in return. The deal is two separate transactions, but essentially will work as a swap deal.
Arthur was touted as the perfect Xavi replacement at Barcelona when he joined two seasons ago, with his brilliant passing range and excellent tempo-setting deemed essential to replacing the legendary Spaniard. Despite this though, fitness problems plus some behind-the-scenes clashes have seen him fall out of favour and have ultimately seen Barcelona move him on. In his place they’ll bring in Miralem Pjanic, who has reigned supreme in Italy with AS Roma and Juventus as one of the best deep-lying playmakers on the continent.
It’s a strange move for Barcelona in my eyes though. In Arthur, they had a staple of their midfield for a long while already set. With him, Frenkie De Jong and the recent emergence of Riqui Puig they had an abundance of technique, quality and passing range – reminiscent of their famous trio from yesteryear.
Obviously the financial side of the club is in dire straits. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, Phillipe Coutinho, Gerard Pique and Ousmane Dembele all earn astronomical amounts in wages each year and most of them are likely to be around for the forseeable future. The club is struggling with staying in the black with the current pandemic in the world, even asking players to take a significant pay-cut for several months while the season was on hold.
While Pjanic will come in and likely perform to a higher level than Melo currently, with his experience helpful in the bigger games too – he’s just turned 30. Arthur will be 24 years old by the time he pulls on a black and white striped shirt, not even in the prime of his career yet.
Barcelona are looking more and more like a short-term team currently, with a lot of their key players on the wrong side of 30. The club have tried to buy younger in recent years, with Dembele, Coutinho, Umtiti, Semedo and De Jong among their signings – but far too often it hasn’t worked out. Coutinho is seemingly being forced out of the club just two-and-a-half years after signing for £142 million from Liverpool. He wasn’t even at the club for 1 of those years, having spent the last campaign at Bayern Munich.
Dembele hasn’t been able to hit a decent run of form since he replaced Neymar in 2017. His fitness issues have been crazy but reports of a poor attitude towards training mean his future is constantly a talking point in Catalonia. Umtiti has been ousted from the team recently by Clement Lenglet and there have been rumours of Nelson Semedo possibly joining Manchester City at some point this summer.
If Barcelona are to start planning for the post-Messi era, they need to do it better than this. Juventus have essentially paid Barcelona €10 million to swap a 30 year-old who’s performances have dipped this season for a 24 year-old who fell out with the top brass at Barcelona. There’s only one winner in this deal – and it isn’t Barcelona.