Football will always remember the day that Barcelona swapped Arthur Melo for Miralem Pjanic but for all the chaos that surrounds the deal, could this actually be a great move? In this week’s edition of ‘Truthful Tuesday’, we say that Pjanic could be the best move that Barcelona have made in a while.
It stunned the planet when transfer expert and football Twitter’s cult hero Fabrizio Romano announced that Barcelona and Juventus were set to partake in a swap deal. Despite the rumours that have surrounded his Juventus career over the last few years and especially last summer, it was not to be Paulo Dybala swapping shirts to play alongside Lionel Messi but Miralem Pjanic. People laughed, some cursed and very few believed what Romano posted with many wondering, had the Italian’s powers faded? And then out of nowhere, the deal started picking up steam with others reporting the same, tangible figures were being thrown out, and Barcelona fans couldn’t believe their eyes.
A fan favourite, boyhood Barcelona fan and a gem, Arthur Melo, was the player who was being traded. Melo’s reluctance to leave his dream club saw the deal stall but even he was mysteriously won over by Juventus. Yet, fans refused to believe that their beloved Barcelona could pull this off until the deal was confirmed. With Arthur’s move to Juventus confirmed, alongside a heap of profit, and Pjanic’s subsequent move to Barcelona confirmed, the world stood still. Even days later, Barcelona fans are still in shock with many disowning their club, writing hate messages to the Bosnian and uttering a few choice words at the club’s board/president/everyone involved in the deal.
It’s not been a great few days for fans of the Barcelona persuasion with various other reports suggesting that Quique Setien has lost the team although within that chaos Pjanic has been awarded the worst welcome a player arriving at the Camp Nou has been since Luis Figo. And even then, the midfielder hasn’t even stepped anywhere close to the Camp Nou or even Spain with him reportedly still in Italy. But all this hate and for someone who could possibly be one of the best signings that Barcelona have made in a long time. The Camp Nou side have made more than a few howlers in the transfer market with Philippe Coutinho, Yerry Mina, Malcolm, Gerard Deulofeu and a few others all joining the list.
But while Arthur, Paulinho, Nelson Semedo and Frenkie de Jong might have a claim to the throne as the best signing, Pjanic could outdo them all. The Bosnian is a majestic player to watch with the ball at his feet and in his own right, a midfielder that any club in the world would love to have in their ranks. This season, under Maurizio Sarri, hasn’t done his powers or ability any justice although that has more to do with problems within the club and the players that the Italian has. Add a few more technically brilliant players alongside Pjanic and watch him shine in that system, but that’s a problem for another day.
Because on his day, few players run a midfield, as well as Pjanic, does in the modern reiteration of the game. He’s technically gifted, surprisingly quick and creative to an extent that Barcelona have dearly missed since Andres Iniesta’s departure. That’s the main reason why he’d thrive at the club and probably why Quique Setien has struggled so far at Camp Nou. At Real Betis, in the spell just before Barcelona, Setien had the likes of Fabian Ruiz, Victor Camarasa, Andres Guardado and even Ryad Boudebouz to satisfy his creative needs with Barcelona offering none of the same.
Instead, he’s got Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Arthur Melo, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal and Riqui Puig with three of the aforementioned six midfielders more suited to playing a deeper role. Vidal and Rakitic are all-action players but more focused on moving the ball forward and not with an impetus on creating too much which leaves Riqui Puig. Now this is one for the future and he’s a brilliant option to have in the first team but the midfielder hasn’t shown enough to help take over the creative burden with Carles Alena another in the same boat.
This is where Miralem Pjanic steps up and for those who watched his pre-Sarri Juventus spell, his time at Roma and with Olympique Lyon all know that the Bosnian is a creator. He’s a line-breaker passer and that hasn’t changed even playing as a regista. But a regista isn’t meant for a player like him with him more of a roaming playmaker as someone who roams about the field, creating chances and not someone meant to stay in one position. Not that Barcelona need him to play as a regista with Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong overly capable of doing just that. However, that’s the versatility the Bosnian offers alongside the capability to play anywhere in a midfield three or in Setien’s preferred 3-5-2 flat system having thrived in the latter under Max Allegri.
It offers the La Liga giants a variety of options but more pertinently it offers them another dimension to their offensive play, something that makes them a lot more unpredictable in the final third and moving forward. Furthermore, and far more importantly, it takes the burden off Messi. The Argentine will go down as a footballing legend and his legacy at Barcelona will be unapparelled but this last season has hurt things. The chaos about Barcelona hasn’t helped and neither has injuries but the pressure that the lack of anyone else as consistent as Messi has hurt the club.
Add that to their incredible lack of creativity from midfield and it has taken the Argentine away from what he does best, causing problems inside the final third. Now Messi’s final position might actually be in midfield but right now, he has enough within his bones to destroy teams in the final third which is what he should be doing. Not dropping deeper to help his midfield do their job and Pjanic helps them change that. Now don’t get it wrong, the intentions and finances of this move should and has to be questioned by the fans especially when Barcelona are considered a massive club but it’s not the worst move in the world.
It brings in an effective, creative and beyond experienced midfielder into a team that lacks a creative spark to help them win something. This is a move that is effectively designed to give Barcelona’s greatest ever the send off he deserves by winning everything in sight, but the question is, do the others have it in them?
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