Why is Arthur Refusing to Play for Barcelona?

Arthur Melo


Arthur Melo caused a stir on Monday by failing to return to Barcelona as scheduled with the rest of the first-team.

The players had been given six days off after the end of the league season but were due back for Covid-19 tests before returning to training on Tuesday to begin preparations for their Champions League clash against Napoli.

ESPN’s Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden reported the Brazilian is instead “negotiating his early release from the club following a lack of minutes since his transfer to Juventus was confirmed.”

Barcelona announced in June that Arthur would join the Serie A side in a deal worth $92 million. Arthur had previously insisted he wanted to stay at the Camp Nou.

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What’s Behind Arthur’s Decision?

Arthur has struggled for game time since the deal was announced. He’s only been used as a stoppage-time substitute in the 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo, playing the last four minutes.

The Brazilian was not used at all in Barca’s last six games. He was spotted yawning in the stands against Alaves and was ruled out of the trip to Real Valladolid because of tonsillitis.

Manager Quique Setien said he missed the final game against Alaves after reporting an ankle injury.

Arthur then decided to stay in Brazil because Setien had already indicated to him he will not play for Barcelona again, according to Roger Torello at Mundo Deportivo.

Setien had hinted he would not use Arthur unless absolutely necessary in a press conference before Barca’s defeat to Osasuna.

Yet the Brazilian did look in with a chance of playing against Napoli in the Champions League, as both midfielders Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal are suspended. However, the emergence of young Riqui Puig seems to have pushed Arthur further down the pecking order.

Agreement with Juventus?

Meanwhile, Barcelona are not at all happy with Arthur’s decision to stay in Brazil and dispute his reasons for not returning to the club, according to Fernando Polo at Mundo Deportivo.

Indeed the club believe the midfielder has an agreement with Juventus “to play as little as possible” for Barcelona between now and the end of the season to minimize the risk of injury.

Polo reports Barcelona think Arthur’s mind has been on Juventus rather than Barcelona since he agreed his move, pointing to his absences due to illness and injury and how he only reluctantly came on as a substitute against Celta as evidence.

Francesc de Haro at Sport adds that Barcelona “urged the player and his entourage to reconsider that stance” as he did not have permission to stay away. Yet the Brazilian has argued that “he has not been treated well” and “the club has not been fair with him.”

What does not seem certain is that the relationship between Barcelona and Arthur is broken beyond repair, and the 23-year-old has already kicked his last ball for the club.

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