For the first time in his near two-year tenure at the Camp Nou, midfielder Arthur Melo had his future thrown into doubt when becoming the subject of transfer rumors.
According to Tuttosport in Italy, the 23-year-old interested Inter Milan and could be used in a part-exchange deal for long-term FC Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez.
Though Mrs. Melo does not get the final say in such operations, of course, the Brazilian’s mother took umbrage to the reports and scoffed at them in a now-deleted Twitter post.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic that has broken out since, and the likelihood it has brought of fees exceeding $100mn being brought down in sensitive times, president Josep Bartomeu admitted as much in Tuesday interviews that cash-swap deals may now become the norm, which won’t have put Melo’s camp at ease.
This morning, however, in SPORT, it is claimed that Arthur is “untouchable” and “non-transferable” in Catalonia, with a post linked to one article on social media this time shared by Lucia Melo with pride.
As part of a front-page headline spread, Albert Masnou writes that center-of-the-park partners Frenkie de Jong and Arthur are “the future of the team and will not enter into any operation” aimed at landing Martinez or Neymar from PSG.
“Barça understand that they have gold [on their hands] with this player,” Masnou continues, “who, all things being said [about his] passing, has lacked a point to finish showing that he is a great.”
This has mainly been down to physical setbacks, and though returning from the victorious Copa America with Brazil an improved package, the youngster has missed swathes of his sophomore season with a niggling pubis problem.
His third such in recent history, Arthur is now on an intensive fitness plan after expanding the private gym in his Barcelona home, with the objective of achieving “resistance and strength that is so badly needed in modern football” and that “he, due to his youth, is [still] in the acquisition phase” of developing.
“Barça trusts this player will end up making the leap,” Masnou continues elsewhere. “Compared regularly to Xavi, the club takes into account that the former captain did not find it easy at the beginning in the club either. He was maintained despite [transfer] offers [from elsewhere] and ended up being one of the best in the world. Arthur is expected to do the same.”
“With a contract until 2024 and a clause of €400mn [$440mn], Arthur has no intention of changing airs either,” it is stated. “The midfielder is comfortable in Barcelona and knows that the Camp Nou is the best setting to succeed. The team’s playing DNA fits perfectly with his style and he is aware that, surely, outside of this environment, [i.e. at another club] his game would be more difficult to adapt and improve,” it is concluded.
Alongside La Masia graduates Carles Alena and Riqui Puig, then, Melo is expected to form the face of the Blaugrana’s midfield for many years to come and is going nowhere just yet.