ON the last day of the summer transfer window there was interest from the Premier League in Gremio midfielder Arthur.
The identity of the club concerned was not made public.
The smart money, though, would be on Manchester City – for two reasons.
First, they have been very active in South America, and Arthur is the most interesting figure to emerge in Brazil since Gabriel Jesus, already such a success at the Etihad.
Second, the player has obvious attractions to a club that are clearly attempting to plant a seed of Barcelona in North West England.
Because the comparison that Arthur so obviously invites is with the long term king of the Catalan midfield, Andres Iniesta.
Like Iniesta, Arthur is short and pale, an unimposing figure until he has the ball at his feet.
He has the balance and technique to give and receive the ball in a full arc of 360 degrees, keeping possession and moving the ball with the interesting angles of his passes.
And he can make skipping, darting forward runs, drawing defenders on the edge of the area and laying off passes at pace.
No wonder then that Barcelona are so keen to beat Man City to his signature.
Reports in Spain have claimed Barcelona are in Brazil to finalise a move for the young star.
He would be sorely missed by Gremio fans who have grown to adore Arthur, especially in the course of the club’s run to the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League.
In April, Gremio sent a reserve side to Paraguay to face Guarani.
They came back with a creditable draw – and with a new member of the first choice starting line up.
Arthur ran the show, set up his side’s goal and looked so accomplished that the fans demanded his inclusion.
A week later, at home to the same opponents an injury brought him off the bench early – and he ran the show once more as Gremio coasted to a 4-1 win.
And he has been just as impressive in the tight games, catching the attention of Brazil coach Tite for the way to rose to the occasion in a 0-0 draw away to Botafogo of Rio in the quarter finals.
Arthur (full name Arthur Henrique Ramos de Oliveira Melo) was called into the national team squad for the final two rounds of World Cup qualification.
He has been left out of the group which visits Wembley next Tuesday.
This may be because his form has dipped a little – an understandable development in a raw player just turned 21.
But his international omission is also surely aimed at allowing him to save his energy for his big challenge – the home and away final of the Libertadores against Lanus of Argentina on the 22nd and the 29th of this month.
A Gremio product –he has been at the club since 2010 – Arthur will want to help them to the continental title, and follow it up with the Club World Cup, taken so seriously in South America.
The pressure is on to win a title – because the chances are that he will not be with Gremio for much longer.
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