Chelsea eye Barcelona target Arthur as long-term Cesc Fabregas replacement

Arthur in action for Gremio (Getty)

Chelsea are preparing to rival Barcelona for the signature of exciting Brazilian midfielder Arthur, according to reports.

The 21-year-old has been strongly linked with a move to the Nou Camp, with comparisons already being made with Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Arthur was pictured wearing a Barcelona shirt and standing alongside a representative of the Spanish club last week.

Despite that, a deal has not been reached. The player himself said: ‘On the Barcelona matter, they did speak with me. We had a meeting, but I want to say that there’s nothing final.

‘Nothing has been defined and I did not sign anything. I am a Gremio player.’

Arthur has been called up to the Brazil squad but is yet to earn a first cap (Getty)

The contact with Barcelona has angered Gremio, which could open the door to Chelsea.

According to The Mirror, the Premier League champions are interested in the midfielder, seeing him as a long-term replacement for Cesc Fabregas.

Arthur has a £44million release clause which makes the Gremio star a viable option – possibly as early as the January transfer window.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is known to want to bolster his squad at the earliest opportunity.

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