Barcelona transfer ban: Rebuilding plans under threat, with Dani Alves, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez likely to stay if signings can't be made
Fifa hand two-window suspension to Spanish champions which will have far-reaching consequences across Europe
Spanish Football Correspondent
Thursday 03 April 2014
With the dust still settlling on a 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid at the Nou Camp on Tuesday that could keep Barcelona out of the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in seven years, the club were told by Fifa on Wednesday that they cannot sign any players for the next two transfer windows.
Not only will the world governing body’s ban, if upheld, seriously affect the massive rebuilding job Barcelona believe they must carry out this summer, it will also have huge ramifications for many of Europe’s biggest clubs.
Chelsea had hoped to sell David Luiz to Barcelona before the World Cup, Everton wanted to keep loanee Gerard Deulofeu, and a host of Premier League clubs were watching the situation of Dani Alves, Pedro and Alexis Sanchez, aware they could be available at the right price. If Barça fail to overturn Fifa’s punishment on appeal, not only will they be unable to bring in Luiz but it will also change their attitude towards selling and loaning out players.
Barcelona stand accused of not fully complying with rules over the signing of at least five of their most promising young recruits: the Dutch-Nigerian Under-14 player Bobby Adekanye; three Korean Under-15s, Lee Seung -woo, Paik Seung-ho and Jang Gyeolhee; French Under-16 star Theo Chendri and Cameroonian Under-14 player Patrice Sousia.
All the players in Barcelona’s La Masia youth academy need Spanish Football Federation registration which is why Fifa has fined Spain’s RFEF £340,000, while also ordering the club to pay £305,000.
Barça have fallen foul of Fifa’s regulations on international youth transfers (see panel). The club argue that the rules are unfair because they judge the unscrupulous clubs in the same way as those who, like Barcelona, attempt to give their young recruits a rounded education.
Barcelona have 90 days to make the changes that will satisfy Fifa’s demands. They are also expected to contest the decision, as Chelsea successfully did over the signing of 16-year-old Gaël Kakuta after being hit with a transfer ban in 2009. The Premier League club won their case because Lens failed to produce a valid contract for Kakuta that would have justified their demand for a £5m transfer fee.
However, this time it is Fifa itself and not a smaller club bringing the case. If an initial appeal fails, Barça could take the case to Court of Arbitration for Sport – the agreed adjudicator on any Fifa dispute – as Chelsea did, and that could result in a suspension of the transfer embargo pending a final decision. That would at least allow them to take full advantage of this summer’s transfer market, though, just like Chelsea in 2009, they are likely to suffer from inflated prices quoted by teams aware of their need to bring in new recruits in case the appeal fails.
Nevertheless the consequences for this summer are potentially serious. President Josep Bartomeu had spoken of a possible €120m (£100m) outlay at the end of the season, with two defenders and a midfielder likely to be added to young Borussia Mönchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, who has already signed a pre-contract, and the expected capture of highly-rated Croatian 17-year-old midfielder Alen Halilovic from Dinamo Zagreb.
At the end of the season Barcelona will say goodbye to keeper Victor Valdes, defender Carles Puyol and possibly Xavi Hernandez. The nervous display against Atletico on Tuesday and the panic in defence caused by Gerard Pique’s early injury underline how much a rebuilding project is needed.
Beyond this season’s Champions League, Barcelona’s long-term prospects in Europe’s biggest club competition are under serious threat.
Read More: The reasoning behind Fifa's ban on Barcelona
Latest in Sport
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Louis van Gaal - I could have axed Ryan Giggs and I could have sacked Jose Mourinho, too!
Manchester United vs Chelsea: Radamel Falcao a doubt for Premier League clash
Real Madrid vs Barcelona player ratings: Luis Suarez rated on his debut
Gus Poyet future: Sunderland manager on brink after Arsenal pile misery on top of 8-0 defeat
Manchester United vs Chelsea analysis: Simplest errors at the back are leaving United very vulnerable, writes Danny Higginbotham
- 1 Stem cells that can kill cancer have been engineered by scientists
- 2 Ricky Gervais and Dame Judi Dench back campaign to stop Thailand dog meat trade
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 5 Queen's first tweet: Reply telling Her Majesty to 'f*** off' broadcast on BBC News
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Tony Blair 'says Ed Miliband will lose 2015 general election'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Putin: The US is to blame for almost all the world's major conflicts
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are