Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo arrived at Barcelona from Gremio with high expectations and a presumption of being the heir to the midfield throne vacated by Xavi and Andres Iniesta. Two years later, he’s on his way to Juventus.
Barcelona announced the transfer of Arthur to Juventus in an $81 million move (plus another $11.25 million in add-ons), with the financial aspect of it reportedly to be partially offset by Miralem Pjanic going from the Serie A leader to Barcelona in return for $67.5 million. Barcelona did not yet confirm that part of the transaction.
Arthur has scored four goals in his 72 appearances with the club, and he’ll remain with Barcelona “until the end of official competition in the 2019/20 season.” That presumably means through the end of the Champions League, which was postponed until August. Barcelona is currently in the round of 16, level at 1-1 with Napoli after the first leg in Italy. Should Barcelona advance, it could feasibly face Juventus later in the competition. Juventus trails Lyon 1-0 after the first leg of their last-16 series.
At first glance, the swap is head-scratching, with Arthur still just 23 and Pjanic already 30. There are surely financial elements to the deal that make it worth Barcelona’s while. When Arthur joined from Gremio, he cost $33.7 million.
He has reportedly signed a five-year deal with Juventus, which also locked down a pair of club legends for another year. Giorgio Chiellini and Gianluigi Buffon signed new deals on Monday for the 2020-2021 season.
The Arthur transfer is the second major domino to fall in the pandemic era, following Timo Werner’s move from RB Leipzig to Chelsea.