How Arthur would fit in at Barcelona as club launch €40m bid

David Cooper 10/03/2018
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Arthur could help Barcelona in a number of ways.

Barcelona are close to finalising a deal for highly-rated Gremio midfielder Arthur Melo.

The Brazilian midfielder has been linked with the Catalan giants since November having impressed in Gremio’s Copa Libertadores triumph.

If the move happens, Arthur will join a high-quality Barcelona midfield that already includes fellow Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Paulinho.

Here, we take a look at three ways the 21-year-old could fit into the starting XI.

4-4-2

For large spells of the La Liga season, Ernesto Valverde opted for this formation following the injury of Ousmane Dembele.

With Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez spearheading the attack, the Catalan giants remain in safe hands – with the duo netting 44 league goals between them this season.

Behind the lethal attacking duo – Paulinho, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta make up the midfield.

Arthur could come in on the left and replace Iniesta, or on the right and replace an in-form Paulinho.

In either position, the young Brazilian will have the flexibility to keep the ball rolling and always race into space to make himself available.

His composure on the ball from the left would be a significant boost to the Catalan giants’ attacking exploits.

4-3-3

If Dembele returns to the starting XI then Arthur – along with Coutinho – can play two possible positions.

The Gremio star could start on the left side of midfield – with Messi, Suarez and Dembele playing higher up the pitch.

This will allow Arthur to create chances from deep in a bid to unlock the elusive trio into attacking positions.

In addition, he could also start on the right wing and compete with the Frenchman for the position.

4-2-3-1

If Valverde was to opt for this new formation it would allow a devastating front four of Arthur on the left, Dembele on the right and Messi playing behind Suarez.

This would leave Busquets, Rakitic, Paulinho, Iniesta and Coutinho to fight for two central midfield roles in front of the defence.

An formation like this could terrorise any defence and give Arthur the freedom on the left to exploit space and provide open space for the likes of Messi and Dembele to run into and win possession.

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Only Lionel Messi knows if I'll join Barcelona, says Man United target Justin Kluivert

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Kluivert has been linked to several of Europe's top clubs.

Ajax attacker Justin Kluivert, son of Dutch legend Patrick, joked that only Lionel Messi would be able to confirm whether Barcelona are interested in acquiring him.

“I’m not in contact with Messi, so I don’t know if it’s true,” the 18-year-old said in an interview with FourFourTwo, responding to reports that the Barcelona talisman has instructed the club board to sign the youngster.

“Only he knows what happened, but it’s good to hear that.”

Kluivert is said to prefer a move to Barcelona, where his father had an illustrious spell, although he said he wouldn’t say no to Barca’s bitter rivals Real Madrid.

The Dutchman also revealed that the infamous chat between him and Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho after last season’s Europa League final had nothing to do with a potential transfer to the Premier League club, who are said to be in pursuit of his signature.

“He [Mourinho] told me it was nice to see me again after so long, because he had known me since I was a baby,” Kluivert explained. Mourinho was a coach at Barcelona during Kluivert senior’s time at the club.

“He said it was great to see me and that I am doing well. “

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Sokratis Papastathopoulos headlines our rumour mill as Man United lead race to sign Borussia Dortmund defender

David Cooper 10/03/2018
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The January transfer window may be shut but there’s still plenty of news from the rumour mill with several moves being put off until the summer.

Here, we round-up the transfer tales that have got everyone talking on Saturday.

SOKRATIS

Manchester United are considering a summer swoop for the highly-rated Borussia Dortmund defender, according to the Mirror.

The Red Devils need a new centre-back and have watched the 29-year-old in action over the past few months.

Although they are interested in signing Tottenham ace Toby Alderweireld, who is out of contract at the end of this season, Sokratis is also on their radar – and at £25 million (Dh 127m) – should be an easier target to bring to Old Trafford.

Chelsea are believed to be keen on signing the Greek international, but United are understood to be front-runners to secure his signature.

SLAVISA JOKANOVIC

The Fulham boss has been linked with the Chelsea manager’s job should Antonio Conte depart this summer, the Daily Mail says.

Jokanovic, who appeared 39 times for the Stamford Bridge club between 2000 and 2002, has revived the Whites’ fortunes at Craven Cottage as they continue their push for Premier League promotion.

Fulham have been on a winning streak since December and that has only served to increase speculation that the 49-year-old Serb could make the short trip across the English capital to the King’s Road side.

The Serbian is said to be ahead of former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique in the running for the position.

HECTOR BELLERIN

The Arsenal right-back is reportedly trying to secure a move back to Barcelona this summer, Mundo Deportivo reports.

The La Masia graduate had been linked with a return to Camp Nou last term, but the Gunners refused to sell the elusive 22-year-old.

However, the £50million-rated (Dh250m) Spanish international still has his sights set on a return to Blaugrana following a difficult season at the Emirates.

While Sergi Roberto’s new contract extension and the form of Nelson Semedo give Barca two options in the position, Bellerin is still highly thought of by the Catalan giants and that won’t put the La Liga club off pursuing his services.

Bellerin is just one of several Arsenal stars considering their future in north London.

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