By 90Min
February 05, 2019

Barcelona have made some questionable transfers of late, with the arrival of Kevin-Prince Boateng being the absolute shocker of all shocks. However, now and again, the Catalan giants still unearth some hidden gems. The story of a young Lionel Messi being signed on a restaurant napkin by Charly Rexach when he was a young trialist from Argentina is the stuff of legend in footballing folklore.

The list of inspired acquisitions at Camp Nou throughout history could continue for pages, but let's cut to the chase; in the summer of 2018, Ernesto Valverde signed a young promising Brazilian from Gremio for £27m. His name was Arthur Melo. 

He had yet to don the yellow of Brazil, unknown by many, but was instantly handed the iconic No. 8 shirt after winning the Copa Libertadores in 2017 with Gremio. It was hoped that he might help ease the loss of its former incumbent, Andres Iniesta. Barcelona even slapped a whopping £355m buyout clause in his contract - the future was at the feet of the then 21-year-old.

The weight of the number on his back must have been heavy, the buyout clause daunting, but the Brazilian, who only established himself as a regular for Gremio the previous year, has seemed to take it all in his stride. 

Arthur needed only one start to cement his place in Ernesto Valverde's lineup, putting in a solid Champions League performance against Tottenham and earning a commending comparison with two of Barcelona's former midfield greats, Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta.

Arthur, a deep-lying playmaker, has tremendous vision, excellent passing and intelligent positioning prompting many to suggest that the midfielder is not just one of Barcelona's finest signings of the 2018/19 campaign, but one of the most impressive coups for the Catalan giants in many years. 

Known for his high-level technical quality and excellent passing ability, his 93.1% success rate was the best in the Brasileirao in his final full season, and he currently sits top of the La Liga table for pass success rate with an admirable 94.5%. The Brazilian is not an eye-catching player - he does not score many goals or even claim many assists, (he has yet to score in LaLiga and has one assist), but he is strong on the ball and his impeccable distribution will be invaluable to the Catalans as he cements his place for years to come. 

Could Arthur really become the Xavi 2.0 that Barcelona have been craving? He's a similar mould to Xavi - small, similar build, and plays the same way as the former Barcelona legend. He is sensible on the ball, uses it wisely and as he labelled himself, an 'organizer' of play. Basically, he has Barcelona DNA. 

Against Valencia in October, Arthur attempted 142 passes, which was the most by a player in an away game in La Liga since 2014. The player on that occasion? Xavi.

At the tender age of 22, things can surely only get better for Arthur. Ernesto Valverde hasn't rushed the youngster into the fold - gradually introducing the playmaker to the Barcelona way - although admittedly he needs no introduction to it. 

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