BARCELONA – FC Barcelona and Juventus finalized on Monday a direct swap that will send Brazilian midfielder Arthur Melo to the Italian club and Bosnian midfielder Miralem Pjanic to the LaLiga giants.
The Catalans confirmed the dual transfers in a statement, saying that the 30-year-old Pjanic will sign a contract for four seasons – until June 2024 – and that it will contain a buyout clause of 400 million euros ($449.5 million).
Both Arthur and Pjanic will remain with their current clubs – both of which are now finishing up their domestic league and Champions League campaigns – through the end of the coronavirus-interrupted 2019-2020 season.
For Barcelona, the move comes at a time when the club has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 crisis and it was looking to make a move to alleviate its financial situation.
In that context, they accepted a deal to sell Arthur, a 23-year-old player with a bright future, for 72 million euros (plus 10 million euros if certain conditions are achieved during the course of the contract) and buy the 30-year-old Pjanic for 60 million euros (with the possibility of an additional 5 million euros in bonuses).
Pjanic, who was born in Bosnia but grew up in Luxembourg, became known as a free-kick specialist toward the end of his 2011-2016 tenure with Serie A club Roma and the start of his time with his next team, Juventus.
But his dead-ball opportunities became more limited after superstar striker Cristiano Ronaldo joined the Bianconeri in July 2018; as a member of Barcelona, he now will be a teammate of the player widely regarded as the world’s best free-kick taker, Lionel Messi.
On their website, Barcelona described the Bosnian as a “total midfielder” and said his “technical quality, vision of the game and commitment make him one of the best midfielders in football today.”
Pjanic, who plays internationally for his country of birth, expressed on Monday his happiness with the deal on Twitter.
“I’m so happy. I’ll give everything for this club. See you soon. Força Barça!”
Arthur, who is known for his outstanding ball control and passing accuracy, had been seen as the logical successor to Barcelona former midfield great Xavi and until recently had expressed a strong desire to remain with the Catalan club.
But the Brazilian was persuaded to change his mind after receiving assurances from Juventus that he would be a central figure for the Serie A club going forward.
Monday’s announcement of the swap on Juve’s website includes a photo of Arthur giving the thumbs-up sign.
Juventus said on their website that the club and player have signed a five-year contract that will be valid until June 2025.