By Tim Stannard
Arthur Melo is barricaded in Brazil as Barcelona demand return of a footballer that has already been sold
For once, it is possible to sympathize with a footballer for refusing to play for a club he is employed by. Arthur Melo has been treated fairly shabbily by Barcelona and now it's payback time for the Brazilian.
Arthur - once the future of Barcelona's midfield - was sold off to Juventus in June against the player's wishes, so that Barca could avoid Financial Fair Play issues.
However, the player remains on the books of Barca until the completion of the Champions League campaign. In theory.
On Tuesday, there was confirmation from a story the day before that the footballer had returned to Brazil, after a short excursion to Ibiza, and had no intention of ever playing for Barcelona again, preferring to focus on remaining fit and active for his new team, Juventus. Which is understandable.
📍 Ciudad Deportiva— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) July 28, 2020
💪 Regreso al trabajo
👥 O. Dembélé, Lenglet y Griezmann hacen trabajo específico sobre el césped pic.twitter.com/GDtiOp2yg9
While everyone else made it back to Barcelona's training session on Tuesday after a week's vacation, Arthur was missing with the club preparing disciplinary action against the midfielder for what it is worth.
However, the numbers were made up with the return of Ousmane Dembele to training, a player who has had an awful season with injury but could be back in time for Barcelona's Last 16 wrap-up tie against Napoli in the Champions League.
The Sports Burst live show will argue whether Arthur's no-show is player power or a badly behaved Brazilian. Head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page and beIN XTRA channel at 12PM ET.
Mariano diagnosis threatens Real Madrid's UCL preparations
Meanwhile, for Real Madrid the notion of a bit part midfielder downing tools must sound like a pretty quaint problem to have.
On Tuesday, the LaLiga champions were greeted with the alarming news that striker Mariano Diaz has tested positive for COVID-19, putting the team's preparations for their Champions League clash against Manchester City on August 7 in serious doubt.
"The player is in perfect health and is complying with the protocol of isolation at home," a club statement read.
No Partey time for Arsenal
With the domestic leagues in Europe starting to wrap up, the transfer market is now seeing a little more movement.
Arsenal has reportedly made a second bid for Atletico Madrid midfielder, Thomas Partey, but has had the offer turned down. Meanwhile, Atleti president, Enrique Cerezo, has declared that Jan Oblak will be staying at the club, despite strong interest from Chelsea who are looking to ditch Kepa.
Willian might well be jumping ship from Chelsea to Arsenal on a free transfer - or extending his contract at Chelsea - while Liverpool's Adam Lallana has already joined Brighton and Hove Albion.
Real Madrid are starting to look through the club closet to sell off some unused squad players - looking at you Borja Mayoral, Mariano Diaz (pending further tests of course), and Sergio Reguilon. The aim of Coach Zizou is to raise a $100 million to fritter away, as done last summer with Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic.
MLB Commissioner says no strike out of baseball season
MLB Commissioner, Rob Manfred, is certainly an optimist.
Despite one third of the Miami Marlins playing squad testing positive for COVID-19, forcing the postponement of Monday's home opener against the Baltimore Orioles and Tuesday's game, Manfred claimed on Monday night that "I don't put this in the nightmare category."
This is despite the fact that a second game was also called off as a precautionary move with the Philadelphia Phillies, the previous opponents of the Marlins, postponing their match with the New York Yankees.
13 members of the Marlins party has currently failed COVID-19 tests just four days into the return of the MLB's curtailed 60-game season, but Manfred told the MLB Network that there is no reason to doubt that the season cannot be completed, despite these setbacks. "I remain optimistic the protocols are strong enough that it will allow us to continue to play even through an outbreak like this and complete our season."