Arthur joins Barcelona: Who is the £35m Brazilian midfielder?
Last Updated: 10/07/18 10:54am
Get the lowdown on Barcelona's new signing Arthur following his £35m switch from Brazilian side Gremio.
The 21-year-old has signed a six-year contract with the Spanish champions, who made room for him in their squad by sending his countryman Paulinho back to Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande on loan.
So who exactly is Arthur? And what will he bring to Barcelona?
The story so far
Arthur was born in Goiania in central Brazil, where he started out at local club Goias before making the move to Gremio in the city of Porto Alegre in 2010. He shone in their youth ranks, with former Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari handing him his senior debut in February 2015.
Arthur helped Gremio win the Copa do Brasil in 2016 but it wasn't until this year that he became a key player. He won the Brasileirao's best newcomer award and earned a place in the official team of the year as they finished fourth, and he was even better in the Copa Libertadores, playing a starring role until he was forced off with an ankle injury in the second leg of the final.
The injury meant he did not get the opportunity to showcase his talents at last year's FIFA Club World Cup, where Gremio were beaten 1-0 by Real Madrid in the final, but the Brazil youth international has not had to wait long to hit the big stage. If all goes well at Barcelona, it surely won't be long until a first senior international call-up follows.
Arthur is a deep-lying playmaker known for his high level of technical quality and excellent passing ability. His 93.1 per cent success rate was the best in the Brasileirao last season, and he also averaged more passes per 90 minutes (82.2) than any other player.
The statistics show he was even more influential in the opening half of the current season. In seven appearances for Gremio before completing his switch to Barcelona, Arthur averaged 92.2 passes per 90 minutes, completing 94.8 per cent of them.
His playing style and stature - he stands at just ft 8ins - have earned comparisons with Andres Iniesta and Thiago Alcantara, so it's no surprise that Barcelona see him as a good fit for their midfield.
Arthur does not score many goals or even claim many assists, but he is strong on the ball and his impeccable distribution was invaluable to Gremio's build-up play and it could be the same at Barcelona. Rather than being a player who dominates the headlines himself, Arthur is the type who provides a platform for his team-mates to shine.
How will he fit at Barcelona?
Adapting to Barcelona's intricate passing game is a challenge for anyone but Arthur is well equipped to cope. As well as being comfortable in possession, he is already accustomed to playing for a side who dominate the ball. This season in the Brasileirao, Gremio have averaged 57 per cent possession - second only to Atletico Paranense.
With Iniesta departing the Nou Camp, Paulinho returning to China and Andre Gomes also linked with a move away from the club, Barcelona will need him to hit the ground running. Ernesto Valverde primarily used Sergio Busquets and Ivan Rajkitic in a central midfield two last season, but Arthur will allow him to switch things up, perhaps giving Rakitic more licence to attack.
The Brazilian is most comfortable at the base of midfield, but he is also versatile. Under Gremio's current manager Renato Gaucho, he played in more advanced areas and developed his attacking qualities.
"I'm a player who likes to have the ball at my feet, and organise play," Arthur said recently. "As a defensive midfielder I see more of the ball, further back. But as a playmaker, Renato is forcing me to get into the area, reach the goal and try to score, as well as thread the ball through. I am also forcing myself to support the attackers and wingers. I think that is where the difference has come, I am trying to get into the area more to feed those up front."
That could be good news for Lionel Messi, who had an excellent understanding with Iniesta. If Arthur can come close to replicating that relationship on the field, Barcelona will be delighted.
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