Barcelona appear to be edging ever closer to the capture of Gremio starlet Arthur, as his manager Renato has now admitted he doesn’t expect the midfielder to return to the club.

Speculation has been rampant since Arthur was photographed wearing the Barcelona shirt earlier in December, as shared by AS English:

Per Globoesporte (h/t, the Blaugrana apologised to Gremio, who were furious with Barcelona, but that hasn’t halted the momentum of the deal. Just days after the photo was posted online, the player himself admitted to talks with the Catalans, per Calciomercato.

And as reported by Sport English, Renato has also weighed in on the move:

“The pressure has been huge, that’s normal. If he will continue? Sincerely, I find that difficult to see. It makes us happy to have a player that’s being watched by European sides.

“Maybe we don’t have a player of his quality but we have others who can replace him. He’s helped us a lot, but I think it will be hard to keep him.”

PORTO ALEGRE, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 22: Arthur of Gremio controls for the ball during a first leg match between Gremio and Lanus as part of Copa Bridgestone Libertadores 2017 Final at Arena do Gremio on November 22, 2017 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. (Photo by Bud

Buda Mendes/Getty Images

The 21-year-old has drawn comparisons to Barcelona great Andres Iniesta for his passing ability and short-area quickness. Like the Spaniard, he’s at his best when conducting play from central midfield, gliding into dangerous spaces with seemingly no effort.

Arthur has been excellent for Gremio this season, leading the team to their third-ever Copa Libertadores title. Gremio will compete in the FIFA Club World Cup as a result, but according to Sport, he’ll miss out on the tournament due to injury.

While he’s still raw, Arthur’s progress in the last two seasons has been impressive, and there’s a strong belief his ceiling would justify a heavy price tag. EiF shared this short video demonstrating the huge impact he can have on matches:

His season numbers suggest he should fit in nicely at the Camp Nou, per FootballTalentScout:

Arthur would not be signed as an instant-impact player but rather as an investment for the future. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t feature at the start of his Barcelona career, although the Catalans have shown caution with younger players of late.

Iniesta is 33 years old, and while he’s still a pivotal player, a replacement is sorely needed, both to spell the veteran and for the future. The Catalans could do far worse than Arthur, even if there’s always a risk involved with spending on South American stars with no European experience.

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