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.
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.
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.
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.
The keeper struck a defiant tone in relishing a starring role, and used the opportunity of his turning back to the clock to shower praise on Juve teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
“I have to admit, I smile at this, because so many turned their noses up when Ibrahimovic was coming to Milan, but at the age of 38, he is making the difference. When it comes to players, you have to analyze them individually and not just as a birthdate. I am very happy for him, he is an extraordinary champion.”
On Ronaldo, Buffon said, “One of the reasons I returned to Juventus was the opportunity to play and train with Cristiano Ronaldo and every day is a revelation.”
Milan’s Daniel Maldini was an unused sub on the day, but the 18-year-old featured in Buffon’s plans.
Buffon traded jerseys with the teenager, just as he did with his father Paolo Maldini. He noted that he’s also traded jerseys with George and Timothy Weah, Lilian and Marcus Thuram,and Enrico and Federico Chiesa.
When he finally does retire, he may leave with the title of the most Interesting Footballer in the World.