Gremio president Romildo Bolzan has confirmed that Barcelona target Arthur Melo will stay with the Brazilian outfit until the end of 2018, even if they agree to sell him to the Catalan giants before then.

The 21-year-old midfielder has been tipped to make a move to the Nou Camp since he was pictured wearing the Blaugrana shirt alongside Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez two months ago.

The Catalans were then forced to issue an apology with Spanish publication Marca reporting at the time that Real Madrid had been offered the chance to sign the player as Gremio didn't want to do business with their La Liga rivals.

Later the Daily Mail reported that Chelsea and Manchester United could also take advantage of the situation to try and lure Arthur to the Premier League.

But the speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona re-emerged last month after Mundo Deportivo reported that the Catalans had sent representative Andre Cury to Brazil to step up negotiations and sign Arthur ahead of upcoming summer transfer window.

Gremio executive football director André Zanotta confirmed later that they had a meeting with Barcelona to discuss the potential sale of the coveted midfielder.

"There has been formal contact and we're going to continue the conversation," Zanotta said as quoted by UOL Esporte.

"We have our conditions. I do not want to give more details, it's a conversation that has just started and it's still going to drag on. Arthur's transfer will not take place before January 31. If the negotiations advance it will not be in the next few days, it will drag on for a few more weeks."

Gremio president Bolzan has claimed that negotiations have stalled and added that even if a deal is struck Arthur will continue in his homeland for the rest of 2018.

"At this moment the [transfer talks] have stopped," Bolzan told UOL Esporte. "But I can tell you that Arthur will stay with us for another year [until December]. All parties agree on that. It's more or less agreed that Arthur will stay until the end of the year [2018] if the deal is completed. I repeat, if it is completed."

UOL Esporte says that Barcelona have already made a first offer worth €30m (£26.6m, $37.3m) to sign the midfielder but Gremio are holding out for a bigger fee as they only own 60% of Arthur's rights.

The Brazilian publication says that the negotiations will continue but Arthur won't move to the Nou Camp before at least the January transfer window of 2019.

This shouldn't be an obstacle for the negotiations as Barcelona cannot registered Arthur at the moment as Ernesto Valverde already has the maximum number of non-EU players in his squad in the form of Philippe Coutinho, Yerry Mina and Paulinho.

Yet, last week Mundo Deportivo reported that Barcelona still want to sign him as soon as possible in order to avoid a potential summer battle with Real Madrid, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain.

Arthur has also been linked with Real Madrid. Getty