The news that Arthur Melo has returned to Brazil after a short break in Ibiza and has no intention of playing in the Champions League for Barcelona shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Though it’s deeply unprofessional conduct and the club would probably be within their rights to pursue a claim for breach of contract, his stance is certainly understandable.
Let’s not forget that not too long ago, he was being feted as the ‘new Xavi’ who would run Barca’s midfield for years to come.However, when it became clear that the club would be in serious financial trouble because of COVID-19, players needed to be sold and, bizarrely, Arthur was first up to be ushered out of the door.
The player had made it blindingly obvious from the very beginning that he had no intention of moving on, only for Barca to continue to put pressure on him and his entourage and make it plain that he was no longer part of the club’s plans.
He was left with little option than to be part of one of the strangest swap deals in the modern era; Moving to Juventus with Miralem Pjanic, six years his senior, going in the opposite direction.
Worse was to follow when Barca manager, Quique Setien, noted that Arthur was unlikely to play much of a part, if any, in the final few fixtures of the 2019/20 La Liga season.
True to his word, a very brief cameo was about the sum total of action Arthur had in a Barca shirt after he’d signed on the dotted line in Turin.
The final image of the player yawning in the stands with his feet up on the seats in front will be an enduring one.
With all of that in mind, is it any wonder then that Arthur has decided he’s not hanging around for the final game or games of the campaign.
It’s not certain that Barca would’ve played him in any event, and were they to have done so, the possibility of getting injured before the beginning of next season – just seven weeks away at the time of writing – is high.
It’s a footnote to an absolute disaster of a season for the Blaugranes.
Right from the very beginning of the campaign there have been problems both on and off the pitch, and this has surely been Josep Maria Bartomeu’s annus horribilis.
If they manage to win the Champions League with what’s gone before as a backdrop, it will be a minor miracle.