Barcelona President Hits Out at ‘Disrespectful’ Arthur for Champions League Choice

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Arthur Melo
Arthur Melo has refused to leave Brazil until his Juventus agreement kicks in | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has hit out at midfielder Arthur for his refusal to return to Camp Nou this summer.

Arthur has already agreed a deal to join Juventus, despite publicly admitting he wanted to stay in Barcelona, and he has now refused to come back and compete in the Champions League in an attempt to force through an early exit.

Arthur Melo
Arthur wants his Barcelona contract to be terminated | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Speaking to Sport, Bartomeu claimed that Barcelona simply could not afford to pay Arthur what he wanted and therefore allowed him to leave, but the Brazilian had agreed to remain at Camp Nou and compete in the Champions League.

“What Arthur’s done is a lack of respect towards his teammates because the team is desperate to do well in the Champions League, as is the club,” Bartomeu said. “It’s not normal that, with such a big trophy on the line, a player decides to remove himself from selection. It’s unjustifiable and completely incomprehensible.

“We reached an agreement for him to continue with Barça until the end of the Champions League. He’s an important player that could help us. But he didn’t come back after a mini-break. It’s an unacceptable act of indiscipline. And for that reason, we have opened disciplinary proceedings because there’s no argument to justify his absence. He called and he said: ‘I won’t come back, I am staying in Brazil.’ It’s his decision. No one gave him permission.”

As well as all the controversy surrounding Arthur, manager Quique Setién has also found himself dominating headlines recently, with many reports suggesting the boss could be sacked this summer after a poor end to the campaign.

“Setién has a contract. When we appointed him, we explained it was a project for this season but also for the next one,” Bartomeu added. “Measuring a coach by a few months, with a pandemic in the middle, is tough. Arturo Vidal said it, he’s had very little time to get to know the players and work.

“At no moment have we thought about a change of coach. I know there were some reports about [reserve manager Francisco Javier García Pimienta] but that’s never been spoken about. Setién is our manager. We’ve not spoken with anyone. Not with Laurent Blanc or anyone. I speak with Xavi because we have a good relationship but he just renewed with his team. He will coach Barça one day, but he will decide when.”

Finally, Bartomeu took the chance to discuss the future of young winger Ansu Fati, who has been the subject of ‘interest from some clubs’.

Ansu Fati
Fati’s emergence has been one of the best parts of the season | Alex Caparros/Getty Images

“Barça’s response has always been no. Ansu is not for sale. He’s essential for the club’s future,” the president added. “He represents La Masia from which players come out, learn and earn a spot in the first team.

“There are not many players like him and Barça cannot sell him, even if it was an economic solution for the club in these times of pandemic. At no time have we considered selling him. On the contrary: what you have to do is help him in his growth and renew him for the future, so that he plays here for life.”

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