After months of rumors that Barcelona would move 23-year-old Brazilian Arthur, it appears to be a done deal, with the midfielder set to move to Juventus, according to Sky Sports.
BREAKING: Juventus have agreed a £72.5m fee with Barcelona to sign Arthur.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) June 23, 2020
If you believe the reported fee of €80M ($90.5M), it makes sense, I guess, why Barcelona would part ways with one of its few young assets.
UPDATE, Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. Eastern: As many expected, and as alluded to below, Barcelona is reportedly not simply cashing in on Arthur. The Catalans are planning to swap the young Brazilian for Juve’s Miralem Pjanic.
ESPN’s Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden wrote this morning, “Juventus are increasingly confident of signing Barcelona’s Arthur, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the other direction, following further talks between the two clubs this week, sources have told ESPN.” My two cents on this aspect of the deal: Barcelona getting (even) older and not getting much financial breathing room is questionable, at best.
There are hang-ups: For one, Arthur has reportedly been opposed to this all this summer, but there is now “a growing belief he will accept the contract on offer at Juve, which is worth considerably more than he earns at Barca.” This seems more and more like a done deal, but stay tuned.
Quick, name all the Barca players we can realistically expect to excel in the years to come. Frenkie de Jong, yes. Ansu Fati, yes. But for an organization known for its youth academy, that’s not much of a list.
That being said, any team facing any kind of financial issues – much less the ones Barcelona is dealing with – would have a hard time turning down this kind of money amid what will surely be a depressed market this summer.
The problem for Barcelona is that they’re losing a player who is not only a solid piece right now, but one of the few you could see excelling for the Catalans five years from now.
How They Got Here
It seemed like a matter of time before Barcelona would realize it wasn’t going to get big money for the expensive players it wants and needs to move (Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele, to name two). But I didn’t see this move happening before July.
Because of the way this team has spent the money it got from Neymar’s move to PSG, and due to all the revenue it has lost during the pandemic, it was between a rock and a hard place.
The Catalans could either hold on to Arthur and kick the can down the road before making this move – or another painful transaction – next summer. Their other option was to get as much as possible for him while Arthur remained so coveted. As they’ve seen with Coutinho and Dembele, players’ value can plummet in no time.
If Barcelona is just losing Arthur but banking that much money in return, I can’t say I like this move, but I do understand it – desperate times, desperate measures. But if this team turns around and spends most or all of this on 30-year-old Juve midfielder Miralem Pjanic – as Barcelona is widely expected to do — it’s a different story.
A Murky Future
Yes, Barcelona would make some money (hopefully) off a swap, but it wouldn’t be a ton, and it would be another cause for concern regarding this team’s long-term future. They’re not hurting for veterans who may or may not be reliable starters in a year or two.
It’s been one short-sighted (or at the very least, divisive, move) after another for this front office since January, so swapping a 23-year-old rising star for a much older player would kinda fit. But such a deal would make it that much harder to expect Barcelona to remain championship-winning Barcelona in ’20-21 and beyond.
While the long-term impact of the Arthur deal is anyone’s guess, given this team’s recent propensity for chaos, one thing you can count on is this move and its aftermath getting convoluted.
What is Juventus Getting?
Arthur is in his second full season in Catalonia after moving over from Brazil in ’18. For a player his age, he’s been solid, playing over 1,400 minutes in his first season in La Liga, while also logging heavy minutes during last season’s Champions League. That might not sound like much, but getting that much action at that level and holding up well at 22 is no small feat. Juve is getting a huge commodity, and paying a ton for it, but the move makes a ton of sense for the Italians.