Reports: Barcelona edge closer to signing £44m Brazilian star
What's the story?
With the winter transfer window less than a month away, Barcelona are expected to sign a few players and strengthen their team. In a bid to improve their depth, they've been linked with Gremio midfielder Arthur.
The midfielder was key to their success in the Copa Libertadores because he controlled games and ensured that possession was circled around effectively. His passing statistics are impressive, and considering he's only 21 years old, it makes him a remarkable talent.
He fits the profile of a Barcelona midfielder perfectly due to his composure on the ball and ability to retain possession. His young age means he is still raw, so he still has areas to improve in such as his attacking contributions. However, the Catalans need someone to dictate the tempo of games from the centre of the pitch in order to take some of the responsibility off Lionel Messi shoulders who has dropped deep to create at times this season.
In case you didn't know...
Not long after the Copa Libertadores final, reports came out stating that Arthur had met with club official Robert Fernandez and there were pictures of him in a Barcelona shirt accompanying that. The player had this to say when interviewed at the Brazilian top flight awards ceremony: "We had a meeting but I want to say that nothing is agreed, there is nothing defined, I did not sign anything, I'm a Gremio player."
This confirms that there is genuine interest from the Catalan giants, and there is a possibility that he could join in January. The Brazilian Serie A season has finished, so he doesn't have any club commitments currently unlike the players in the European leagues.
The heart of the matter
Gremio have valued him at £44 million, based on his release clause, according to some reports. This would have been a huge amount in years gone by, but considering the inflated transfer market, it's a good deal. Barcelona will have to act quick, though, as multiple European clubs have been linked with him. A player of his potential doesn't come along that often.
Arthur is versatile as well because he has played in multiple positions for Gremio this season. He usually plays as a deeper midfielder but has played in more advanced roles when needed. Gremio usually play in a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-4-2 formation, which suits Ernesto Valverde because he appears to be gradually moving the side away from their traditional 4-3-3 formation. Therefore, Arthur could slot in the midfield without too many hiccups.
Regardless, this would be an exciting transfer for the Blaugrana and would be a proper replacement for Xavi due to the similarity in skillset.