LaLiga champions Barcelona have started to strengthen their team ahead of the new season as they announced the transfer of 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder Arthur. The Blaugrana had previously confirmed that Brazilian midfielder Paulinho was not going to be at the club next season as he was set to rejoin Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande on a seaon-long loan deal with an option to buy. Paulinho was bought by Barcelona from the Chinese club for 40 million euros last summer and went on to score nine goals in 49 appearances last season. Barcelona have now paid the same amount to Brazilian club Gremio for Arthur, who signed a six-year contract with the Blaugrana. The deal includes an unreachable release clause: 400 million euros.
Barcelona confirmed the deal in an official statement: "FC Barcelona and Gremio de Porto Alegre have agreed the transfer of the player Arthur Henrique Ramos de Oliveira Melo, following the agreement the two clubs reached in March. The agreement will see the Brazilian player immediately join the squad." Arthur had started his career at Goias before moving to Gremio in 2010. He has not been called up to the Brazilian national team yet, but he has been a key player in a Gremio outfit that won the Brazilian Cup in 2016 and the Copa Libertadores last season.
The young Brazilian midfielder is regarded as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta at Barcelona as the veteran 34-year-old creative midfielder left the club this summer. "Arthur likes playing with quick touches and short, triangulating passes involving his team-mates," a statement on the official Barcelona website reads. "One of his virtues is his ability to get open, which makes him a dangerous right-footed threat near the penalty area. At 5 ft 8 in, Arthur also stands for his skill at protecting the ball and his eagerness to play vertically up the field." He is the first important incoming transfer of the summer for Barcelona after Paulinho, Iniesta and Gerard Deulofeu were all allowed to leave the club.
Barcelona are 4/5 at Bet365 to win the LaLiga title again next season.