Prospective new Barcelona signing Arthur Melo has spoken of his disappointment at not being given the opportunity to realise his ‘dream’ of appearing alongside Andres Iniesta at the Nou Camp.
Brazilian midfielder Arthur could move to Europe this summer after playing a key role in Gremio’s 2017 Copa Libertadores triumph, with the reigning La Liga champions having agreed a purchase option of £26million plus £8m in add-ons in March.
Viewed by many – including compatriots Zico and Luiz Felipe Scolari – as the long-term successor to Iniesta in Catalonia, the 21-year-old has repeatedly stated his admiration for Barcelona’s much-loved captain, describing him as an ‘idol’ and a ‘football god’ while stating his ambition to appear in the same team under Ernesto Valverde.
Barcelona have the option to purchase Arthur Melo from Gremio for an initial £26m fee in July
Arthur says he is sad that he will not get to share a dressing room with idol Andres Iniesta
That will not come to fruition, however, with Iniesta announcing last week that he would be leaving the only senior club he has ever known at the end of the current campaign after 22 years and 16 trophy-laden first-team seasons.
The Blaugrana legend, who only signed a lifetime contract with Barcelona in October 2017, has yet to officially confirm his next move, but is widely expected to head to China.
And while Arthur is understandably disappointed at not getting to feature alongside such an iconic player whom he has followed since childhood, he has not yet given up hope that the duo will cross paths at some point in the future.
‘I’m sad,’ he said in an interview with Fox Sports, as relayed by Sport. ‘I started to understand football in a different way, watching Iniesta play with Barcelona. He was an example to follow for me, someone who, from a distance, I’ve tried to have as a reference.
Iniesta will leave Barcelona this summer and Arthur hopes they may still cross paths in future
ANDRES INIESTA’S BARCELONA CAREER
Senior debut: vs Club Brugge (A), October 2002 (aged 18)
Honours: Nine La Liga titles, four Champions League titles, six Copa del Rey wins, three UEFA Super Cups, three FIFA Club World Cups, seven Spanish Super Cups
‘On the other hand, we have to see that he’ll leave Barca with his head held high and having given so many trophies to the club.
‘I’d hoped to be able to share a dressing room with him. It was a dream to be on the same team.
‘But, God willing, we’ll meet one day, whether playing or not, and I’ll be able to give him a hug.’
Arthur, who has yet to earn his first senior international cap for Brazil and will be considered as an outsider to make their squad for the World Cup in Russia, is not guaranteed to join Barcelona during the forthcoming transfer window, though does not appear to harbour any concerns about the potential deal.
‘Barca trust me and I’m happy about it,’ he told Sport, as translated by FourFourTwo. ‘They called to reassure me. Everything is well on track. It’s a dream to play at a club of the greatness of Barcelona. I’m sure everything will be fine.’