FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - La Liga Santander - FC Barcelona v Villarreal - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - September 24, 2019 Barcelona's Arthur celebrates scoring their second goal with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez REUTERS/Albert Gea
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona have reached an agreement to sell Brazil midfielder Arthur Melo to Juventus for a fee of 72 million euros ($80.98 million) and signed Bosnian Miralem Pjanic from the Italian champions for 60 million, the La Liga side said on Monday.
The 23-year-old, generally known simply as Arthur, will remain at the Camp Nou until the end of the 2019-20 season, which has been extended until August because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, before moving to Turin.
Pjanic, 30, will also move to the Camp Nou at the end of the campaign and sign a four-year contract containing a release clause of 400 million euros, said Barca’s statement, adding his transfer fee was worth an additional five million in variables.
Bosnian international Pjanic has been at Juve since 2016, having previously played for AS Roma plus French sides Olympique Lyonnais and Metz.
The transfer helps Barca meet their target of a further 70 million euros in revenues from player sales before June 30, in line with the budget the club’s members approved last October which forecast income of 124 million euros from transfers.
Barcelona have the highest revenues in world football but their finances have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, affecting ticket sales, television rights and merchandising, leading the club to enact a 70% pay cut for players in April.
But the negotiation has attracted criticism from Spanish future presidential candidate Victor Font, who said the deal came about due to the club’s financial mismanagement.
“The deal once again proves the board’s absolute priority is to balance the books by letting key players go. The financial situation has been bad for many years, long before the pandemic,” he said on Twitter.
Barca did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Font’s words.
Arthur joined Barca from Brazilian side Gremio in July 2018 and was initially hailed as the heir to former club great Xavi Hernandez, with Lionel Messi saying he was surprised by the player’s similarities to the side’s former puppet master.
But despite a promising opening spell, Arthur made only 19 league starts in his first season with the club and 14 this campaign, and coach Quique Setien said earlier this month that he had not lived up to expectations.
There were also issues off the field.
In March 2019, he apologised for travelling to Paris during the season to attend the birthday party of Brazil team mate Neymar. Last December, Catalan television network said Arthur had gone snowboarding while sidelined with a groin injury.