Miralem Pjanic is fulfilling a dream by sharing a dressing room with Barcelona legend Lionel Messi and cannot believe his luck having also previously played with Francesco Totti and Cristiano Ronaldo.

New €60million signing Pjanic was belatedly presented as a Barca player on Tuesday, having tested positive for COVID-19 in August which meant the 30-year-old had to go into quarantine.

That delayed the midfielder's arrival in Barcelona until last week, with him working out at the club's training ground for the first time on Saturday prior to their friendly against Gimnastic.

A tumultuous transfer window for Barca saw Messi ask to leave the club before ultimately staying, a decision Pjanic both expected and relished.

"I have met with him two or three days ago," Pjanic told reporters about Messi.

"I have played with Totti, Cristiano and now Messi. That is fortunate, to have players like this as team-mates. They are athletes who have given a lot to football. 

"Today I have the opportunity to share the dressing room with an alien and it will be beautiful. 

"Sharing a dressing room with Messi and not only with Messi, with others too, is a dream for me. 

"But we will be a squad of 25 and all 25 will be important.

"I have played in great teams and I have respected my teams, but today a dream comes true. It is the ultimate dream. I will give everything I can to leave a good memory of me."

Of the transfer saga, which saw Barca refuse to allow the Argentina international leave for free, Pjanic added: "I followed everything that happened about Messi. 

"But I don't see Messi outside of this club. He has made an incredible story for the team and I think this story will end well. Leo is a winner, an achiever. 

"I only imagined Messi at Barca because this is his home. He is perhaps the best player of all time and for us having him is a great asset.

"Messi has grown up here and I've seen him happy. Everyone is going to have a good time here.

"He has made an incredible history with this club and all will be well.

"My will was to play with this player and I had no doubt that it would happen. I did not imagine him being in other colours or a different shirt."

Miralem Pjanic trained at Barcelona for the first time on Saturday after being cleared of coronavirus.

New €60million signing Pjanic tested positive for COVID-19 in August and had to go into quarantine, meaning he only arrived in Barcelona on Thursday.

He worked out at the club's training ground for the first time on Saturday, ahead of Barca's friendly against Gimnastic.

Barcelona posted photos of Pjanic and Jean-Clair Todibo, who has also been kept away from the team after a positive coronavirus test, being put through their paces.

Alongside the images, the club wrote: "[Pjanic] and [Todibo] have received the medical green light after recovering from COVID-19, and have already trained at the Ciutat Esportiva."

Pjanic was not included in a 25-man squad named by Ronald Koeman to face Nastic, but Lionel Messi was selected.

Messi only started training with his team-mates this week after failing to push through a departure from Camp Nou.

Ousmane Dembele could make his return from injury in the friendly, while maiden first-team appearances could be on the cards for new arrivals Francisco Trincao and Pedri.

Ansu Fati will not take part in the match after sustaining a right hip bruise in training on Friday, while Luis Suarez and Arturo Vidal - who are reportedly nearing respective moves to Juventus and Inter - were left out.

Chelsea rejected the chance to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus as part of a swap deal for Jorginho, according to the Italy international's agent Joao Santos.

Jorginho had been strongly linked with a return to Serie A with champions Juventus during Maurizio Sarri's time in charge.

Juve replaced Sarri with Andrea Pirlo last month and have signed Arthur from Barcelona, however, with Pjanic heading the opposite way.

But Jorginho's representative Santos claims things could have turned out differently had Sarri remained in place at the Allianz Stadium.

"Juventus had offered a swap deal including Miralem Pjanic, but the English side didn't take it into consideration," he told Tuttomercatoweb.

"[Juve sporting director Fabio] Paratici never called me. Would he have moved to Juventus with Sarri? I think so."

Jorginho has had a mixed spell with Chelsea since joining from Napoli two years ago and has also been touted as a target for Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Roma.

And Santos says the 28-year-old, who is currently on international duty with Italy, will look to find a new club if he is overlooked for selection by Blues boss Frank Lampard.

"He has a three-year deal with Chelsea. The market is long, it will last until October 5," he said. 

"If Chelsea were to think that he is no longer part of the project, I would find an alternative solution.

"Last year he played 40 games for Chelsea and is an important member of the national team. 

"So far we haven't received any official offers. He is followed by many clubs and there aren't many players with his characteristics in that role."

Arthur said a fond farewell to Barcelona in an emotional video published to social media on Monday as he prepares to join Juventus.

Brazil international Arthur joined Barca in 2018 and showed promise in his debut campaign, with his passing abilities and style of play earning comparisons with club icon Xavi.

But his progress stalled in 2019-20 as he failed to establish himself during a challenging campaign for the Blaugrana.

Speculation about his future began to circulate while LaLiga was on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, though the 24-year-old insisted he had no interest in leaving despite reported interest from Juve.

But the stories intensified and in June it was confirmed that Arthur would go to Juve in a deal potentially worth €82million, while a €65m transfer saw Miralem Pjanic go in the opposite direction.

Arthur subsequently became marginalised as then-coach Quique Setien suggested the midfielder would only play as a last resort, and that situation led to the Gremio product making himself unavailable for the resumption of Barca's Champions League campaign.

Now, as he prepares to embark on a new journey with Juve, Arthur reiterated his affinity for Barcelona.

"Saying goodbye is always difficult, even more so [because I am] leaving behind a place that has become my home," he said in a video posted to his official social media channels.

"An incredible city that will remain forever in my heart, where everyone received me as another Catalan, showed me a new culture, helped me to grow as a player and, especially, as a person.

"I am leaving a group of brilliant players. I'm very lucky to have played alongside them and, most of all, I am grateful for their support as good people with huge hearts.

"The crowd won me over from the first day, made me proud to play for them and to wear one of the greatest shirts in the world.

"They showed me care and respect that I will never forget. Today is the day to say goodbye, but I am taking everything with me in my heart forever."

Barcelona have confirmed their new signing Miralem Pjanic has returned a positive test for coronavirus.

Pjanic has moved to Barca from Juventus as part of a deal that was agreed in June, with Brazil international Arthur going the other way.

While Arthur became an isolated figure thereafter, Pjanic completed the rest of the campaign with Juve and was set to link up with Barca imminently.

However, Barca have announced the 30-year-old will now join them in 15 days' time, after he tested positive for COVID-19.

"Pjanic tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, August 22 after suffering some discomfort. The player is in good health and is isolated at home," a statement read.

"For this reason, the player will not travel to Barcelona until 15 days later to join Barca."

Pjanic leaves Juve having won four Serie A titles and two Coppa Italia trophies.

Miralem Pjanic is dealing with a minor injury and has not been kept out of the Juventus team due to his imminent move to Barcelona, Maurizio Sarri has revealed.

Juve and Barca have agreed to a deal that will see Pjanic head to Camp Nou at the end of the season with fellow midfielder Arthur going in the opposite direction.

Former Roma man Pjanic has been a regular in the Bianconeri team in recent years, yet he has featured in just one of their past four matches, having started the prior three that followed confirmation of his transfer.

With Juve unconvincing in the 30-year-old's absence, Sarri was asked on Saturday of the nature of Pjanic's absence and whether it related to his looming departure.

"I don't know Arthur's situation and I don't care. Pjanic is the one in our group," Sarri said ahead of Sunday's game against Sampdoria.

"I have no doubts about his professionalism and therefore, if I made different choices, it was for technical and tactical reasons related to the matches.

"From tomorrow, he will be taken into consideration like everyone else.

"You haven't seen him play more, but Pjanic has played 46 games this year, so it seems to me you have seen him.

"You just haven't seen him in the last two games where we made different choices. We played against teams that make physicality their weapon.

"Pjanic has played a lot. At the moment, he has a small problem like all players over 40 games. It is a solvable problem.

"Yesterday, he worked to solve this little problem, today he will return to the group and tomorrow we will see if he will be in the game or not."

Pjanic's fitness issue adds to other concerns in the Juve squad, with Douglas Costa the latest to suffer an injury, with the winger set to be out until at least the end of the Serie A campaign.

Sarri is not especially concerned by the growing number of problems, however.

"Juve have had many injuries for a few years but it is also difficult to find a common cause," he said. "We have also had contact injuries where there is little to consider.

"In these days, we have worked to recover. [Giorgio] Chiellini was back training yesterday, [Gonzalo] Higuain trained separately and today he tries to return gradually to the group, [Mattia] De Sciglio I think from next week can be in the group.

"So, the situation is typical of a team that has played many games. It is not so dramatic. Then we have many players ready to go, so we can definitely cope."

Neymar returning to Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is "unlikely", according to the LaLiga club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The Brazil forward left Camp Nou for the French capital in a world-record €222million deal back in 2017, but a return to Barcelona - where he won eight major trophies across four seasons - has long been mooted.

However, Bartomeu thinks such a move would be hard to pull off in the current climate as Europe's elite clubs adjust their plans due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"Such an operation is unlikely because the situation of all the clubs in Europe is very difficult," Bartomeu told RAC 1.

Yet there was no such dismissal when Bartomeu was asked about another forward in Lautaro Martinez.

Lionel Messi's Argentina team-mate is said to have a €111m release clause in his contract, but that is thought to expire on Tuesday, and it has been reported Barca will not try to activate it before the deadline passes.

Martinez, 22, has scored 17 times in 37 appearances for Inter this term and is under contract at San Siro until 2023.

"I'm not talking about transfers," Bartomeu added when asked about Martinez.

"We have not marked the signings in the calendar on when they should be."

One man who will be joining Barcelona is midfielder Miralem Pjanic, who will move at the end of this season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction to join Juventus.

Though Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur and there are reports Barcelona looked to offload the Brazilian to balance the books, Bartomeu insists the new signing had been a long-term target.

"Pjanic is a player who has wanted to sign for a long time, he was highly sought after and there is a Barca player who wants Juve," Bartomeu explained.

"But it is an exceptional situation. It is not to balance balances because we would have sold other players for whom we had offers. Arthur is a player who is highly valued."

Maurizio Sarri said the only suitable way to hail Gianluigi Buffon is with applause after the veteran goalkeeper set a new Serie A record on Saturday.

Buffon made his 648th appearance in Italy's top flight as Juve cruised to a 4-1 victory over Torino in the Turin derby, breaking the record previously set by his former Italy team-mate Paolo Maldini.

Juve's victory and Lazio's subsequent defeat to Milan means Sarri's side are now seven points clear at the top of Serie A with eight matches remaining.

But when asked to describe Buffon, who signed a one-year extension with Juve in June, Sarri said the 42-year-old can only be applauded, with his legendary status already assured.

"Everyone can just congratulate with Buffon for what he did during his career," Sarri said in a news conference.

"He's a legend. No words needed, just applause. That's how we welcomed him in the changing room today, no words needed. Look at his numbers, he is a legend."

One player who will be leaving Juve at the end of the season is Miralem Pjanic, the midfielder heading to Barcelona with Artur coming the other way.

Pjanic was taken off shortly after half-time in the derby, but Sarri insisted it was not to do with his performance, but instead related to a booking the playmaker had received towards the end of the first half, with Torino then pulling one back to make it 2-1 in stoppage time.

"Pjanic received the yellow card and he was one I was the most nervous on the pitch because the penalty given to Torino," Sarri added.

"That's why I decided to change him, I didn't want to risk [a sending off]."

Juventus director Fabio Paratici said Miralem Pjanic would only leave for Barcelona after the Bosnian midfielder agreed to join the LaLiga champions.

Pjanic will swap Juve for Barca at the end of the 2019-20 season, with Arthur moving in the opposite direction as part of the high-profile swap deal.

Juve star Pjanic was in the starting XI and played 74 minutes of Tuesday's 3-1 Serie A victory over Genoa following the announcement.

Asked about Pjanic prior to Juve's win, Paratici told Sky Sport Italia: "Logically, the transfer market is part planning and part opportunity. In this particular deal, we had both elements.

"Pjanic is a very important player for us, so when the option emerged, we spoke to Miralem and he said he was happy here, so the only club he would've left us for was Barcelona.

"We found this player Arthur, who we had been tracking for a long time, and who is younger than Pjanic."

Juve have also been involved in another swap deal, with 19-year-old Portuguese winger Felix Correia arriving from Manchester City in exchange for 18-year-old Spanish forward Pablo Moreno.

Correia has signed a five-year contract in Turin following his €10.5million (£9.5m) transfer, while Moreno – who left Barcelona for Juve in 2018 – has penned a four-year deal and cost City €10m (£9m).

"Felix is a winger who is strong in taking men on, he's very talented and we'd been following him for a while too," Paratici added. "He was more functional for our U23 team project compared to Moreno."

 

Miralem Pjanic has been included in Juventus' squad to face Genoa on Tuesday, a day after his impending move to Barcelona was confirmed.

It was announced Barca had agreed an initial fee of €60million to take Pjanic to Camp Nou at the end of the season, with Arthur heading in the opposite direction in a deal that could eventually cost Juve €82m.

Pjanic is among the party named by Juve for the clash at the Luigi Ferraris, where the Bianconeri will continue their bid for a ninth Serie A title.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, prior to the confirmation of the deal, Juve coach Maurizio Sarri said he had no doubts Pjanic would give his all to the cause before heading to Barca.

"If the transfer becomes official, [Pjanic] will be happy because he will end his career in a great team," Sarri said.

"The boy can be happy with this solution, I am peaceful because he is serious and intelligent. The possibility that he doesn't give us 101 per cent, I don't see it."

Juve are four points clear of second-place Lazio at the top of Serie A with 10 games remaining.

After weeks of speculation, Barcelona have agreed a deal to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus, with the sale of Arthur in the other direction having also been sanctioned.

It has been one of the more head-scratching transfer stories to have emerged in recent times, given at the age of 30 Pjanic has seven years on Brazil midfielder Arthur – a star whose talent is still burgeoning.

Barca will fork out an initial €60million to Juve, who have in turn agreed to stump up €72million for Arthur's services.

There is a general consensus that Juve have the better part of the agreement, due mainly to Pjanic's age.

The deal is sure to impact several of Barcelona's midfield too. We take a look at what the arrival of Pjanic may mean for the Blaugrana's current options.


IVAN RAKITIC

Croatia international Rakitic has been a mainstay of Barca's midfield since joining from Sevilla in 2014, winning four LaLiga titles, as many Copas del Rey and the Champions League during a trophy-laden stint. But Rakitic has not always been universally loved by the Camp Nou faithful, perhaps his only crime being he is simply not club legends Xavi or Andres Iniesta, and has at times been subjected to jeers from the crowd. With his contract up in 2021 there have been plenty of rumours Barca could cash in and Atletico Madrid have been strongly linked with his signature. The player himself said this month he is not heading for the exit door, but this rumour is unlikely to go away anytime soon.


SERGIO BUSQUETS

Busquets is heading for the sort of legendary status the aforementioned Xavi and Iniesta achieved at Camp Nou. Since breaking into the first team from the club's legendary La Masia academy 12 years ago, there has been no player in world football more consistently brilliant in the defensive pivot role and his influence on Barcelona for over a decade can never be understated. But the World Cup winner turns 32 next month and Father Time does not slow down even for the world's best. Such is Busquets' enduring quality, he likely has a couple more years left at the elite level, yet Barca will need to start contemplating life after this club great. Pjanic may have been brought in to help bridge the gap between generations.


RIQUI PUIG

Widely considered as a player to carry Barca into the next generation, Puig has made six LaLiga appearances this term – the only start among those outings only came in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Celta Vigo. With doubts over the long-term futures of Rakitic and Arturo Vidal, it looked as though a breakthrough to becoming a more regular and influential part of the first team was on the cards for the 20-year-old. But the arrival of Pjanic may mean that particular path is blocked once again for one of Barca's greatest hopes. With fellow academy graduate Carles Alena having departed for Real Betis on loan in search of regular football in January, and the possibility that move gets made permanent, Barca will need to assuage any concerns over a lack of minutes or risk their talented youngster getting itchy feet.


ARTURO VIDAL

The arrival of Vidal from Bayern Munich on a three-year deal in August 2018 was met with a similar lack of fanfare to Pjanic's. The fact the Chile midfielder was 31 when he moved to Camp Nou only adds to the similarities. Much like Rakitic, Vidal's future at Barca has been the subject of regular debate, with a return to Serie A – where he formerly represented Juventus – to link up with Antonio Conte at Inter frequently mooted. Vidal recently said he is happy to stay at Barcelona so long as he feels important. He turned 33 last month, though, and the arrival of Pjanic may complicate his desire to be utilised in the trophy-defining matches. With Vidal there is very much a watch-this-space feel.


FRENKIE DE JONG

to agreeing his big-money move to Barcelona from Ajax last year, at least if the newspapers are to believed. De Jong has made 27 LaLiga appearances, including 24 starts, in a debut campaign that has shown flashes of brilliance but never truly ignited. Lofty expectations and ruthlessness are common at a club the stature of Barca, Arthur himself can pay testament to that, and more will be expected of De Jong moving forward. Still, he remains just 23 and Barca will surely build around De Jong for the next decade – perhaps flanked by Pjanic for a decent chunk of that time.

Barcelona and Juventus have hammered out the details of agreements that will see Miralem Pjanic line up alongside Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann next season, with Arthur poised to begin the next chapter of his fledgling career in Turin.

The part exchange deal involving these two stylish, deep-lying midfielders – Arthur's switch to Juve was valued at an initial €72million, with Pjanic costing Barca €60m – prompted plenty of raised eyebrows.

Pjanic has been a consistent performer since joining Juventus from Roma in 2016, while only last season Arthur was been spoken of as a potential heir to Xavi.

In order to try to make sense of why each club gave the green light for their players to trade places, we have enlisted a little help from Opta.

MIRALEM THE MAINSTAY

Much has been made of the age difference between the two players, especially given the near parity in transfer fees.

Pjanic is seven years older than Arthur, 23, but having those extra miles in his legs has not affected his output when it comes to time on the field.

Each man made 44 appearances in all competitions last term, but Pjanic's 3,277 minutes on the pitch dwarfed Arthur's 2,476.

That, in part, was as a result of the Brazil international establishing himself during a breakthrough campaign, but form and fitness issues have restricted him to 28 games and 1,541 minutes this time around. Pjanic is on 36 appearances and 2,903 minutes as Juve chase down another Scudetto.

GOALS AND ASSISTS

One area where there has been a notable uptick for Arthur this season is in front of goal. The former Gremio star has scored four times, having failed to find the net at all in 2018-19. He also has four assists, up from two.

Pjanic is far more noted for his creative qualities but only has two assists this term, down from eight in the previous campaign – perhaps indicative of him being slightly shackled within Maurizio Sarri's system.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina playmaker has seven goals across the past two seasons, although his numbers in both metrics owe a debt to his prowess from dead-ball situations. How many free-kicks Messi will let him take at Camp Nou feels like a legitimate question to ask.

PASS MASTERS

These are two players who cherish the ball and do not make a habit of letting it fall into opposition control. In their most recent seasons, neither dips below a pass completion percentage of 90.

Arthur completed 91.7 per cent of his passes in opposition territory last term – a figure he has maintained with 91.1 this time around.

Pjanic dips slightly to 88 per cent in the attacking half, figures that probably reflect his more ambitious and expansive style, along with the fact he lost possession 455 times in 2018-19 compared to 225 for Arthur.

DOING THE DIRTY WORK

In their positions at the base of the midfield, there is a burden on Arthur and Pjanic to destroy as well as create.

The Brazilian won 146 duels compared to 127 by his Bosnian counterpart last season and he is only two behind this term despite a significant disparity in playing time.

Pjanic is out in front when it comes to interceptions, winning 50 to Arthur's six this season and 53-19 in 2018-19, while the older man's recovery stats (256 and 213) are also comfortably more plentiful than his Juventus replacement (179 and 101).

Barcelona have a deal to sign Miralem Pjanic from Juventus for an initial €60million, with Arthur having agreed to move in the opposite direction in a separate arrangement.

Pjanic will put pen to paper on a four-year contract with Barca and join them at the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign. The transfer includes an additional €5m in variables.

Earlier on Monday, LaLiga's champions confirmed Arthur will join Juve from next season for an initial €72m. The Bianconeri are yet to reveal the details of the Brazil international's contract.

Bosnia-Herzegovina international Pjanic is seven years Arthur's senior and has been at Juve since a switch from Roma in 2016.

The set-piece specialist has remained an integral part of the team since Maurizio Sarri replaced Massimiliano Allegri as head coach for this season, although he arguably does not entirely meet the ex-Napoli and Chelsea boss' very specific demands for his holding midfielder.

Pjanic has won Serie A in each of his three completed seasons in Turin, scoring 22 times in 171 appearances across all competitions.

He is well-placed to make it four in a row, with Juve four points clear of Lazio in this season's Scudetto race, although Barcelona's plans to freshen up their midfield are perhaps partially explained by them falling two points shy of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga – meaning Arthur might struggle to leave as a back-to-back champion.

Arthur has agreed to join Juventus from Barcelona in a deal worth an initial €72million, LaLiga's champions have confirmed.

The Brazil international will conclude the 2019-20 campaign at Camp Nou before moving to Juve from next season. The transfer could be worth a further €10m in variables.

Miralem Pjanic is widely expected to complete a move in the opposite direction after both players were reported to have passed their medicals on Sunday.

Arthur joined Barcelona on a six-year contract in July 2018 for €40m, having impressed in Gremio's 2017 Copa Libertadores triumph

The 23-year-old impressed during his debut campaign, with his smooth passing style suggesting he might serve as a long-term heir to Xavi.

However, 2019-20 has proved trickier for Arthur, with Ernesto Valverde's exit as head coach and Quique Setien's appointment doing little for his prospects. Having played 44 times in all competitions last term, he has managed 28 this time around.

Earlier on Monday he was named in Barca's squad to face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Setien's side have drawn two of their past three games to fall two points behind Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with six games remaining.

Real Madrid or Manchester United? 

The two European giants appear to be the likeliest options for Jadon Sancho, who continues to be linked with a move away from Borussia Dortmund. 

Sancho has been tipped to make the move to Old Trafford but the England international could be set to grace the Santiago Bernabeu instead. 

 

TOP STORY – MADRID AND UNITED FIGHTING OVER SANCHO

Real Madrid and Manchester United are going head-to-head to sign Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, according to Le10 Sport.

Sancho has been tipped to leave Dortmund for United, though Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain have all emerged as possible destinations.

Zinedine Zidane reportedly wants to bring Sancho to Madrid as Dortmund demand a huge fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Could Sergio Aguero and Milan Skriniar be set to swap clubs? Calciomercato reports Inter are eyeing Manchester City star Aguero in a deal that would see Nerazzurri defender Skriniar move in the opposite direction. Inter could be in the market for a forward as Barca eye Lautaro Martinez, while Pep Guardiola's City are desperate to bolster their defence.

- There has been no decision on David Alaba's future, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk. The Bayern Munich star has been linked to City, Juventus, Chelsea and PSG.

Mauricio Pochettino is in talks to take over Portuguese giants Benfica, Record says. Pochettino has been out of work since he was sacked by Tottenham in November.

- Calciomercato claims Milan's hierarchy will confront Mino Raiola in the next 48 hours to try to finalise a new contract for star goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

Arsenal have made an offer for Levante midfielder Enis Bardhi, reports Onda Cero. Fiorentina and an unnamed Bundesliga club are also interested.

Barca and Juve are expected to announce the swap deal involving Arthur and Miralem Pjanic on Monday after undergoing medicals, according to widespread speculation. Arthur will join Juve, while Pjanic is set to replace the Brazilian at Barca.

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