Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has ripped Arthur Melo after the midfielder refused to return to the club and finish the 2019-20 season with the Catalan giants.
The 23-year-old has remained in Brazil after being given time off following the end of the league season in Spain and is refusing to play for the club again in a move which has angered Bartomeu.
The Barcelona president told Sport that Arthur has disrespected both the club and his team-mates and says his actions cannot be justified under any circumstances.
“What Arthur has done is an insult to his teammates, because the team wants to do well in the Champions League. And also to the club. It is illogical that playing such an important title, a player withdraws himself. It is unjustifiable and totally incomprehensible.
“We agreed that until the Champions League ended, he would continue to play for Barça. He is a player who has a certain importance in the team and who could help us.
“But he did not appear from the return of the mini-vacations. It is an unacceptable act of indiscipline. And that is why we have opened a file for him, because there is no argument that justifies his absence. He called and said, ‘I will not return, I will stay in Brazil.’ It is his decision. No one has given him permission.”
Barcelona have opened disciplinary proceedings against the Brazilian and could hand him “the biggest ever fine in the club’s history,” according to Sport.
Arthur will leave Barcelona and join Serie A champions Juventus at the end of the season. The midfielder has agreed a deal worth €82 million ($92m) with the Turin giants.
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Bartomeu Makes Arthur Claim
Barcelona’s decision to sell Arthur has attracted plenty of criticism, particularly as they have agreed to replace the Brazilian with Miralem Pjanic. The Juventus midfielder is seven years older than Arthur and celebrated his 30th birthday in April.
Arthur also made it clear he did not want to leave Barcelona in April when speculation he could depart the Camp Nou first arose.
“The only option that interests me is staying at Barcelona. I feel good here and I am grateful to the club and the coaching staff for the confidence they have in me. That is another reason to be totally clear on the fact my only desire is to remain here.”
Yet a deal with Juventus was eventually agreed. Bartomeu also offered his view on the deal with a comment that is likely to surprise many Barcelona supporters.
“We are talking about a player who cannot renew for Barça because he wants too much money, he has a better offer and he tells us, Barça cannot match that offer, he decides to leave and then a bid is launched.”
Arthur has struggled for game time since his move to Juventus was announced but could still have played a part in Barcelona’s Champions League campaign. The Catalan giants play the second leg of their last-16 tie with Napoli in a week’s time and are without midfielders Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets due to suspension.
Yet there certainly seems no way back for the Brazilian at Barcelona now in what is a sad end to the season for the midfielder. Arthur looked ready to enjoy a long career at the Camp Nou when he arrived from Gremio in 2018 but must now seek to get his career back on track in Serie A.