When Barcelona fans thought that Josep Maria Bartomeu’s board could not possibly be any more embarrassing when it comes to transfer decisions, they have outdone themselves by swapping 23-year-old Arthur Melo for 30-year-old Miralem Pjanic – so they could make a profit of €10 million in the process.
As I explained in a lot more detail in the 200th episode of our The Barcelona Podcast, I actually do not think that Arthur is worth anywhere near the €70M that Juventus have reportedly agreed to pay for the Brazilian’s services.
While I do agree that Arthur has the potential to be good enough to play for Barcelona in the future, the crude reality is that he has failed to establish himself as a regular starter due to his constant injuries, poor fitness and (perhaps as a result) inability to be a trusted midfield reference for teammates to rely on.
Arthur has not yet completed his second season and the Camp Nou and, in my eyes, has actually done enough to deserve another year in Catalunya. I believe that, if he was able to stay healthy and focused on making his passing more vertical and purposeful, the Brazilian could be a key man for Barca moving forward.
Having said that, I also believe that Barcelona are right to accept €70M for Arthur. Given the value of transfers being discussed in these Covid-influenced times, selling a player who is currently little more than a good squad player for that sort of money makes perfect financial sense – especially as the board is in desperate need of €70M to balance their books before the end of June.
So, let’s be clear: My issue with this whole situation is not Arthur’s departure. Not at all. What makes my blood boil is the board’s decision to splash €60M for Pjanic in exchange.
If I was to be cynical, I would say that Barcelona have convinced Juventus to buy Arthur (so they can balance their books) and, in turn, agreed to pay well over the market value for Pjanic instead. Luckily, I am not cynical so I’m sure that’s just a pointless assumption on my behalf.
Pjanic is an experienced player who has been influential at Juventus (170 appearances, 22 goals) and Roma (185 apps, 30 goals). The Bosnian international has played around 40 games per season since 2013, which is a good sign. Confident on the ball, elegant and creative. Also inconsistent from time to time though.
Much more importantly, however: Already 30 years old and about to sign a four-year Barcelona contract with a €7.5M yearly wage.
A good enough player for Barca? Possibly, especially in the short term.
Do the Catalans need him? Not really. In fact, his arrival could be an inconvenience to upcoming talents Riqui Puig, Pedri, Trincao or even Carles Alenya.
Speaking to The Barcelona Podcast, I argued that the Catalans are in desperate need to rejuvenate their aging squad, and recent performances by young La Masia graduates Riqui Puig and Ansu Fati reinforce my thinking.
With that in mind, I am honestly baffled to see Josep Maria Bartomeu agreeing to ship out Arthur, a youngster with obvious potential and a decade of football left in him, so he can then bring Pjanic, a player who will immediately inflate Barcelona’s player wage bill and only with a maximum of three good enough years left in his career.
Or perhaps this was just a transfer so that Barcelona could balance their books at the last minute, a bit like the similarly puzzling Jasper Cillessen – Neto swap with Valencia last season.