Barcelona’s first signing this transfer window is Arthur Melo, signed from Brazilian club Grêmio. Having previously secured a first option for the player, Barça paid a €30 million fee plus €9 million in variables to bring him to the Camp Nou.
Who is this midfielder who has Brazilian fans excited?
He’s yet to play in Europe, but he has already won the toughest competition outside of it in club football. He was outstanding as Grêmio won the Copa Libertadores in 2017.
Only 21, he also has yet to play for the senior Brazilian national team, though he has been called up before for them, and also has played at youth levels. Many fans and pundits are calling for him to become a part of the set-up immediately as the seleçao crashed out of the current FIFA World Cup earlier than they expected.
He began his career at Goiás Esporte Clube, the same place that Douglas Pereira, his new pseudo-teammate started. He made his way to Grêmio about eight years ago, but his breakthrough came more recently as he became a first-team regular and helped his club to the continental championship.
His ability on the ball and passing accuracy have earned him comparisons to Xavi, Thiago Alcántara, and Andrés Iniesta, as many consider him custom-built to play in midfield for Barcelona.
Despite this, an adjustment period is to be expected, with Arthur playing in a new club, not to mention, a new continent.
We will see whether Ernesto Valverde moves away from his 4-4-2 system or sticks with it. Arthur could fit in alongside one of Sergio Busquets or Ivan Rakitić in a four-man midfield, or he could play with both of them in a trio, or perhaps with Busquets and Philippe Coutinho.
Barcelona are said to be on the hunt for at least one other midfielder, perhaps the aforementioned Thiago or Paris Saint-Germain’s Adrien Rabiot. A rotation policy will likely allow all players to get their chance, though currently Barcelona have a raft of midfielders who could be on their way out, such as Rafinha and André Gomes.