Gremio star Arthur has confirmed he has held talks with Barcelona over a potential move, but said it is not yet a done deal.
According to Calciomercato, he said: "I talked with representatives of Barcelona, but I haven't signed anything yet. We met each other, nothing more. If I have to leave Gremio, it must be a good deal for every party involved in it."
Though a deal may not yet have been confirmed, Arthur has already been photographed in the club's colours, per AS and Paulo Freitas:
AS English @English_AS
Barcelona target Arthur photographed in club's shirt https://t.co/MiKdRc0kwf https://t.co/b0NeVKSmIf2017-12-2 10:09:24
Paulo Freitas @Cynegeticus
A pic of Arthur (Grêmio) with Barcelona's sporting director Robert Fernández has also leaked. Grêmio say there are no offers from Barcelona yet. https://t.co/Mk1XGtuWVC2017-12-2 19:46:24
Barcelona have had to apologise to Gremio over the photo leak, per Brazilian outlet Globoesporte (h/t OneFootball.com).
The photos were a misstep from the Blaugrana, who will not want the deal to be scuppered by concerns over tapping up.
That is particularly the case as he is the kind of player Barca have been crying out for in recent years, according to Grup14's Rafael Hernandez:
Rafael Hernández @RafaelH117
Rather spend 50m on a controller that might turn well or not, than Coutinho laying waste to Barcelona’s transfer budget. Would be a positive sign to the club’s long term future.2017-12-2 00:47:07
Indeed, the club are still yet to replace the talismanic Xavi Hernandez, who left in 2015, as they moved away from controlling games to relying on the quality of their forward players to win them matches.
However, while that is often enough, the team are less effective overall as a result of that shift—which culminated in them falling short in La Liga last season—and after Neymar's departure in the summer they have one less superstar to rely on up front.
A player who can dominate proceedings from the centre will help them rediscover the approach that bred so much success.
It will be an enormous responsibility to place on the shoulders of Arthur, 21, who is yet to experience football outside of Brazil, but Neymar was in a similar situation before joining Barca at the same age.
The midfielder could potentially take some time to settle in at the Camp Nou if he does make the move, but he's a bright prospect who could end up becoming a tremendous addition to the side.