Arthur

Pjanic to Barcelona
Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Breaking down the Arthur for Pjanic plus cash ‘swap’ for Barca, Juve

Leave a comment

Juventus got a little younger on Monday but also made sure to keep a couple veterans around Turin.

The Old Lady completed a swap deal, sending Miralem Pjanic plus cash to Barcelona for midfielder Arthur, while also announcing new contracts for Gianluigi Buffon and Georgio Chiellini.

[ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

Barcelona says it paid $67 million for the 30-year-old Pjanic, while Juve spent about $81 million to get Arthur.

Barca could get another $11 million if Arthur hits bonuses, and there’s a good chance for that.

The Blaugranas have been a mess aside from Lionel Messi’s typical brilliance, and have been passed by Real Madrid both in the table and long-term prognosis. Board room drama has not helped anything.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Understandably, Barca is getting blasted for the swap deal and that’s an easy argument to make given Arthur’s age and status as one of the club’s more consistent performers.

But here’s a devil’s advocate take.

Pjanic a move to embrace the back end of Messi’s prime

Messi remains the best creator in the world if not flat-out best player but his window has to be closing despite his seemingly immortal skills. Consider:

  • Only Thomas Muller (21) has more league assists than the Argentine and only four have more goals.
  • Robert Lewandowski is the only player to have as many combined goals and assists as Messi, and the Polish striker’s season is over.
  • Messi been named Man of the Match in 18 of his 27 appearances which is a ton even accounting for reputation.

Arthur v. Pjanic

It’s unlikely that he’ll fall off a cliff next season, but he needs some help in shouldering the playmaking load.

Let’s get this out of the way: Arthur is a force and will bring power and 1v1 skills to a Juventus team which is long in the tooth outside of Paulo Dybala, Matthijs de Ligt, and Rodrigo Betancur.

But Pjanic can simultaneously mentor Frenkie de Jong and combine with the young Dutchman to produce a metronomic midfield and allow Barca’s creators up top to do their thing.

Barca’s also been a bit snakebit this year. No team is possessing the ball more than Quique Setien’s men, with 62.5 percent of the ball having an edge on Man City (62.0), PSG (61.8), Bayern Munich (61.5), and Bayer Leverkusen (60.1) the only clubs above 60 percent.

Don’t get me wrong: Arguing for this move paying off more for Juve than Barcelona is very easy and the Catalan side’s embarrassing off-field season — let alone years of poor personnel planning — makes the jokes even easier. Right now, Messi isn’t just carrying Barca, he’s bearing the entire weight of the club’s reputation.

The goal seems to be to get Messi another Champions League, something that could still happen this season if the defense avoids gaffes. Barca is a top ten team in shots conceded per game, better than even Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid and Julian Nagelsmann’s RB Leipzig.

Plus there will be sales of Philippe Coutinho, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, and others to go with the $14 million left over from the swap deal.

Arthur to Juventus
(Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Why Juventus loves the move

Arthur is a beast, and can combine with Betancur to provide a complete midfield duo that is equal parts relentless, physical, and technical.

They’ll only grow under the tutelage and pressure that comes from playing with an older roster conditioned to winning.

Consider the ages of Juve’s top minutes contributors in Serie A play. Leonardo Bonucci is 33, Cristiano Ronaldo 35, and Juan Cuadrado 32. Then comes Pjanic (30), Alex Sandro (29), de Ligt (20), Blaise Matuidi (33), Dybala (26), and Betancur (23).

Arthur is yet to collect the track record of Pjanic and there will be an adjustment but even if the swap doesn’t pan out, the Old Lady will have risked $14 million on a 23-year-old with 20 Brazil caps.

What about Buffon and Chiellini and their combined 77 years on God’s green earth?

This makes sense, too.

Buffon was strong in the Italian Cup run and provides invaluable depth in experience as one of th best goalkeepers in the history of the game.

Chiellini missed most of the season with cruciate ligament injuries but even at 35 remains an adequate player and loyal servant.

The legends want to keep playing, will accept their roles, and there’s no reason to see them in another shirt.

Transfer rumor roundup: Spurs lead race for Rakitic; Juve-Barca talk swap

Rakitic
Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sunday’s transfer rumor mill churns out beneficial news for a player Jose Mourinho believes is one of the very best center midfielders are on Earth (He’s not wrong).

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

A report out of Spain’s Mundo Deportivo says Tottenham has pulled in front of a pack of chasers in the race to sign Ivan Rakitic of Barcelona.

Rakitic, 32, has another season on his contract and Spurs are said to be best suited to land him due to Juventus preferring a younger player and Atletico less willing to give a longer contract.

The Swiss-born Croatian has 106 international caps with 15 goals and is one appearance away from making his 300th in a Barcelona shirt.

He won the Europa League with Sevilla in 2014 before claiming the Champions League with Barca one year later. Rakitic’s minutes and attacking numbers have taken a hit this season, as 11 of his 21 La Liga appearances have come off the bench.

Other unrelated reports have linked Tanguy Ndombele with a move in the other direction. Spurs would do well to act regardless of Ndombele’s destination, depending on the length of the deal for Rakitic. If he’s not a contract albatross in four years time, Spurs will have a valuable asset in their race to rejoin the UCL elite.

But would Daniel Levy be willing to sanction a higher salary for an older player? That will be key here.

Marca has two aforementioned clubs in an interesting swap deal, where Barcelona would acquire Miralem Pjanic from Juventus in exchange for Arthur.

The 30-year-old Pjanic has again been a key player for Juventus, scoring three times with two assists in 22 Serie A appearances.

Arthur, 23, has played much less at Barcelona and it would be a symptom of its sick if they cast him aside despite strong play in limited use.

The defensive midfielder has chimed in with three goals and three assists in 700 fewer minutes. He’s missed nine La Liga games with various injuries this season.

Pjanic would certainly fit the bill of a Barca quality player but Juventus would make out like a bandit here, as Arthur has barely begun an already impressive career.

In the same report, Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici said he expects very few clubs will be able to afford Paul Pogba after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and that Gianluigi Buffalo and Giorgio Chiellini will spend another year with The Old Lady.

Report: Barcelona offer players to Spurs in Ndombele exchange

Photo by Mark Leech/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tanguy Ndombele’s time in north London could be short-lived, as it’s been reported that Barcelona have offered Tottenham Hotspur their choice(s) of a few players in exchange for the 23-year-old French midfielder.

[ MORE: PL On this Day: Rooney’s famous volley v. Newcastle (video) ]

According to a report from Sky Sports, Barca seek to bolster their first-team squad in central midfield and have prioritized Ndombele despite the fact he only moved to Tottenham for a club-record fee of $82 million last summer. Barca are facing exceedingly hard financial times due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the suspension of play which ensued, thus they have resorted to swapping players to make a deal happen.

In exchange for Ndombele, Barca have offered the following players to Spurs: defenders Samuel Umtiti and Nelson Semedo, and midfielder Arthur.

[ MORE: Eredivisie cancels 2019-20 season; will not declare champion ]

On first glance, it would seem unlikely Spurs would even entertain the idea of so quickly swapping their club record signing for any of the players offered to them. However, one must consider that Ndombele was signed 1) by a different manager, and most importantly, 2) with a very different short-term future in mind. Once Mauricio Pochettino was fired and replaced by Jose Mourinho in November, every bit of planning and building done in recent seasons and transfer windows went out the window.

When Spurs signed Ndombele, they likely believed that Jan Vertonghen would remain a defensive lynchpin for at least two more seasons. With that unquestionably no longer the case, a left-footed center back with World Cup-winning pedigree (Umtiti) would now be a massive upgrade. The same goes for Semedo at right back, where some combination of Serge Aurier and Juan Foyth combined to give Spurs virtually zero contribution from the position this season. While Arthur is arguably the best player on offer to Spurs, what would they gain from simply swapping midfielders?

If Barca are desperate enough to send two of the three players to Spurs in exchange for Ndombele, Mourinho and Daniel Levy will have to look long and hard at the prospect of improving — and potentially fixing — two broken positions along the backline.

Transfer rumor roundup: Four bids for Gabriel, Barca offer five for Martinez

transfer gossip
Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The transfer rumor mill has not paused often during the coronavirus suspension, with — nickname alert — French Eddy being linked to Arsenal along with RB Leipzig back Dayot Upamecano.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

It seems like more than links when it comes to Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes, as four clubs including Premier League side Everton are said to have made bids for the 22-year-old.

Gabriel moved from Brazil to France in 2016, and he was loaned by Lille to Dinamo Zagreb and Troyes before establishing himself as a first-teamer.

The center back has two goals in 52 appearances and is averaging 1.7 tackles per game, 3.3 clearances, and .9 interceptions in Ligue 1 play while passing at 82 percent.

Gabriel is set to cost more than $36 million. He’s repped Brazil at the U-20 level.

Elsewhere, a better-known South American is being linked to his usual destination in a wild exchange.

Calcio Mercato reports that Barcelona is willing to offer five players to Inter Milan in order to drive down the price on Lautaro Martinez.

There’s plenty of smoke to infer fire when it comes to the prolific 22-year-old Argentine striker, though a five-player exchange is different than meeting the $124 million release clause.

Those players are midfielders Arturo Vidal, Carles Alena, and Arthur, fullback Nelson Semedo, and Jean-Clair Todibo, who are worth a combined $167 million according to the loose estimates of Transfermarkt.

Messi scores 50th Copa del Rey goal as Barca advances

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez
Leave a comment

Nearly every time Barcelona shows a bit of vulnerability, it beats the very notion back in a big way.

It was no different Wednesday, when the Blaugranas responded to a second successive first leg deficit in the Copa Del Rey by clobbering Sevilla 6-1.

Yes, that Sevilla. La Liga’s regular Top Four challengers, the ones who shut out Barca in the first leg and have allowed just 14 goals in 21 league matches.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 1-1 Leicester ]

Down 2-0 after one leg in Seville, Barca piledrove the visitors at the Camp Nou in the home leg. After Ever Banega saw a first half penalty kick saved by Jesper Cillesen, denying Sevilla an equalizer, Barca broke loose.

Lionel Messi was again the catalyst. In the Round of 16, he sat out the first leg against Levante and recorded a goal and an assist in the second leg.

This time, he again returned after sitting out the first leg. Messi drew the penalty that led to Philippe Coutinho‘s opener, set up Sergi Roberto for the goal that made it 4-0, then capped off the scoring in stoppage time.

It was his 50th goal in the tournament, breaking a tie for fifth all-time with legendary Ferenc Puskas. He needs 31 to catch Telmo Zarra’s improbable record set in 1957.

Coutinho scored twice, Luis Suarez had a goal and an assist, and Jordi Alba recorded two assists. Arthur assisted a goal by Ivan Rakitic.