FC Barcelona have completed the £35.5 million signing of Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo from Gremio. The 21-year-old has confirmed a six-year contract with the La Liga champions, who stated the departure of fellow Brazilian Paulinho to Chinese team Guangzhou Evergrande on Sunday.

The Brazillian midfielder arrives at the Catalan club with huge shoes to fill as he is seen as the long-term heir to Andres Iniesta, who left the club this summer. Nevertheless, Gremio had been persistent that they would be able to hold onto the youngster after they had initially tossed out terms with Barca in March over a move that was assumed to take place in January 2019. Iniesta’s exit appeared to advance up the whole process, though, and on Saturday the player announced that he would move to Spain sooner than predicted. Barcelona have now confirmed that report on their official website.

A Barcelona statement read: “FC Barcelona and Gremio de Porto Alegre have agreed to the transfer of the player Arthur Henrique Ramos de Oliveira Melo, following the agreement the two clubs reached in March. The agreement will see the Brazilian player immediately join the squad.”

Arthur, who has yet to be capped at senior level by Brazil, has a buyout requirement in his contract set at £35.5 million. The Gremio midfielder has signed a 6-year contract at the Nou Camp after the clubs reached an agreement in March. It comes a day after Paulinho left the La Liga’s champions to rejoin Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande on loan.

Arthur joined Gremio in 2010 from lower-league team Goias Esporte Clube and made his first-team debut, aged 18, under former Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari in 2015. He made his Gremio debut in 2016 but began to prove himself in the opening team the following year, when he played 27 league matches. So swiftly did he impress that he was demanded up to the senior Brazil squad for a World Cup qualifier later that same year.

He has been summoned up to the Brazil team in the past but has yet to play for them, and evidently did not make their World Cup squad. The midfielder helped Gremio win the Copa do Brasil, in 2016 and the Copa Libertadores in 2017. Arthur was named the man of the match in the second part of the 2017 Copa Libertadores final as Gremio beat Argentina’s Lanus 3-1 on aggregate. In entirety, he scored 6 goals in 66 appearances for Gremio.

“Arthur likes playing with quick touches and short, triangulating passes involving his team-mates…One of his virtues is his ability to get open, which makes him a dangerous right-footed threat near the penalty area.” the club’s official site stated.

They certainly assume that he will be able to adjust into the club’s tiki-taka custom seamlessly, although express that his capacity to play more quickly could change the system used by the head coach Ernesto Valverde. Barcelona have stated that he will join their team immediately, with his performance to take place shortly.  He is their first significant signing of the summer transfer window, with IniestaDeulofeu, and Paulinho all having left the club recently.


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