Columbus Crew SC’s roster for 2018 started to take shape this Friday as the club released the list of players who had their options picked up for the upcoming season. However, what is perhaps the biggest question surrounding the Black & Gold’s offseason is still unanswered: Will Artur return next year?
The 21-year-old midfielder had his option picked up by the club but his permanency in Columbus is tied to an agreement between Crew SC and São Paulo FC, the Brazilian club who loaned him, that would either see Columbus buying his rights or extending his loan.
“We’ll discuss that,” head coach and sporting director Gregg Berhalter said on Friday. “Anything with his future will be discussed in the upcoming weeks. He’s a guy that we thought did quite well for us, but we have to see what the club (São Paulo) says, we have to see how we deal with that.”
Crew SC’s task, though, doesn’t seem to be an easy one as São Paulo is reportedly interested on bringing Artur back to the club to meet a request of head coach Dorival Júnior. However, in a recent interview discussing the players who were loaned out in 2017 and will be back in 2018, Júnior did not mention Artur.
According to the Brazilian media, São Paulo declined a $1.5 million offer from Crew SC for 50 percent of Artur’s rights earlier this week.
“I don’t want to get into specifics of this transaction,” Berhalter added. “What I would say is that we are happy with his performance and it would be nice to have him back.”
In a recent interview to Brazilian website GloboEsporte.com, the midfielder commented on his possible return to São Paulo, the club where he played four matches in 2016 before being loaned to Crew SC.
“I believe they (São Paulo) have been watching me,” he said. “But right now I’m focused on the MLS. Whatever happens off the field is up to my agents to figure out. When the season is over we’ll discuss what the best for my career is.”
Artur similarly addressed the situation when talking to Massive Report earlier in August.
Signed by Crew SC in February, during the club’s preseason in Brazil, Artur became an important player for the Black & Gold, playing 27 matches (20 starts) and recording one goal and three assists.
According to his midfielder partner and team captain Wil Trapp, bringing the Brazilian back should be one of the club’s priorities during the offseason.
“That’s a really important piece for us,” Trapp said. “Not only on the field, but in the locker room. He’s such a wonderful human being. The way he’s acclimated to American culture and just being a selfless servant to us already is pretty impressive.”
Crew SC has all the tools to start 2018 in a good position to compete and figuring out a way to bring Artur, one of the team’s main contributors, back would make the Black & Gold even stronger when next season comes.