In an exclusive interview with SPORT, FC Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke about the Arthur Melo saga after the Brazilian refused to join up with his teammates after LaLiga had concluded.
The ‘Arthur saga’ began, really, when he was officially sold to Juventus.
Arthur was someone who we wanted to renew now but the economical situation of the club made it difficult for us. To hand someone a long-term deal at the moment is difficult. Arthur had a really good offer from a club. He told us about it and at that club there was a player, Pjanic, who Barça have been interested in for a while. We reached an agreement. But the decision to leave Barça was all Arthur's. He didn't establish himself at Barça, he felt like he had assurances over his playing time there and he would triple his current wages. The financial side of things in Italy is a lot easier and clubs can afford to pay players more. And that's why he left.
But Barça lost an active member of the team because the season hadn't finished.
We reached an agreement where he wouldn't leave until the Champions League had finished. He had an importance to the team and could've helped us. But he didn't return after the short break and it's an act of unacceptable indiscipline. That is why we've opened disciplinary proceedings against him because there is no justification for his absence.
What were the reasons he gave for not coming back?
He called Abidal but didn't give any specific reasons. He simply decided not to return and that his time at Barça had come to an end. I suppose what happened is he went to Brazil and felt like he wanted to extend his holiday. But we are obligated to open proceedings against him because the player must play for Barça until the Champions League has finished. Just like Pjanic with Juventus. That was the pact between the two clubs.
What does opening disciplinary proceedings entail exactly?
You have to analyse what happened and try to find out the causes for that. You have to ask the player and see what reasons he gives. If his reasons aren't justified, he will be fined. Aside from that if a worker doesn't turn up to work, they don't get paid. What he did was show a lack of respect to his teammates because they want to win the Champions League. It's also disrespectful to the club. It isn't logical that when you are competing in an important competition that one player just disappears. It's unjustifiable and totally incomprehensible.
Is there any chance he could return and play in the Champions League?
No, because he's decided not to come back. He called and said:"I'm not coming back, I'm staying in Brazil." That's his decision but no one gave him permission to do that.
Does what's happened with Arthur prove selling him to Juventus was the right decision?
It's a good deal on the financial side. On a sporting side, we'll see, but I think so. Arthur is a good play but he wasn't indispensable. He was a good 12th man, if that makes sense. But the sporting department would prefer to have Pjanic, who is a player we've wanted for a while.
Was it a transfer done simply to balance the books?
This isn't a deal to balance the books. It was a sporting decision which we later reached a financial agreement on. We're talking about a player who couldn't renew with Barça on the terms he wanted, he then got a better offer and I explained Barça couldn't match that offer. He decided to leave and that's when a transfer was put in place.