Arthur Refuses to Play, Adds to Barcelona’s UCL Problems

Arthur Melo

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Barcelona’s Champions League hopes have been hit with a fresh blow as midfielder Arthur is refusing to play for the club again this season.

The Brazilian wants to “rescind his contract now” and “feels it makes no sense to hang around” Barcelona for their Champions League campaign, according to Sport’s David Salinas.

According to Catràdio Esports, Arthur has “no intention” of returning to Barcelona and was not at the club on Monday for Covid-19 testing. The players were due back after being given a few days rest following the culmination of the La Liga season.

Arthur was the only player not to report back for testing. Even players ineligible for their Champions League campaign, such as Martin Braithwaite, were present. Barcelona will now begin disciplinary action against the midfielder, according to Javier Miguel at AS.

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Arthur Frozen Out at Barcelona?

Arthur has been frozen out by manager Quique Setien since he agreed a move to Juventus in June. He will join the Serie A champions at the end of the season in a deal worth $92m.

The midfielder has managed just four minutes of action for Barcelona since the deal was announced and was pictured yawning in the stands during the club’s recent defeat to Osasuna.

Sam Marsden at ESPN reported Barcelona “are negotiating the midfielder’s early release from the club following a lack of minutes.”

Arthur initially insisted he did not want to leave Barcelona when rumors he could be sold arose earlier this year. He said in April the “only options that interests me is staying” but was sold two months later as part of a deal that will Miralem Pjanic move the other way.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu offered an explanation for the transfer in an interview with RAC1.

“Arthur’s issue is first a sporting decision, also an economic one, but the technical secretariat has wanted Pjanic for a long time. That Arthur went mid-season is because of an exceptional season, not to balance the books. There are other players with offers and the price is determined by the offer and demand.”


Barcelona Facing Champions League Headache

The news that Arthur is unwilling to play for Barcelona adds to the club’s mounting problems ahead of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli. The fixture is currently level at 1-1 ahead of the return leg at the Camp Nou.

Barcelona have Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets suspended for the tie, leaving them short of options in midfield. Arthur may have struggled for game time recently but the absence of the duo means he could have seen minutes against the Serie A side.

Setien’s side also have a lengthy injury list. Clement Lenglet, Ronald Araujo, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele, and Antoine Griezmann are all currently out of action. Lenglet and Griezmann are expected to be fit but the others remain doubtful.

All of which means it’s hardly the preparation Barcelona were looking for after a traumatic campaign that saw the Catalan giants lose their league title to rivals. Arthur’s decision not to return almost means it’s a sad end to the midfielder’s Camp Nou career.

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