Barça had not intended to sign Arthur during the winter transfer window, so the fact that the deadline has now passed is irrelevant. But the Catalans are seemingly keen to wrap up a deal for the 21-year-old likened to Xavi and Andres Iniesta as soon as possible.
With reports last week that Barça intend to pay €30m for the player’s signature, the negotiations with Gremio continue now that the Brazilian club is resigned to selling.
According to Sport, Gremio’s counter offer to Barça’s €30m enquiry is €36m. While an earlier suggestion was that the Catalans wanted to own 100% of Arthur economic rights, it seems that Barça would only be buying Gremio’s 60% stake in the player for that amount.
The remaining 40% of his economic rights are owned by Brazilian businessman Celso Rigo (20%) and the player himself (20%) after he took that instead of a bonus in his last contract renewal.
Sport states that Gremio would the deal to be completed now and keep him until the end of the 2018 Brazilian season in December. He would then arrive at Camp Nou in January 2019. Barça may want him sooner than that, though, perhaps pushing for a summer arrival.
The problem that the Catalans face is the limit on players in Spain from outside of the European Union. The number is capped at three and there are already three non-EU players in the squad following the January arrivals of Philippe Coutinho and Yerry Mina. Paulinho is the other.
None are currently able to qualify for dual citizenship in Spain or another EU country, potentially creating a selection issue if and when Arthur does make the move.
Spanish citizenship is dependent on five years of residence, or two for those from former Spanish territories – such as central and south America. Mina, hailing from Colombia, could take citizenship and obtain a Spanish passport in January 2020, for example.
However, that could still mean at least a year of Arthur playing only limited football, or being loaned to another European club.