The January transfer window is over, all moves are now postponed until the summer, clubs will have to make-do until then and bad luck if you have a few injuries.
But wait, what’s that? Is it a silly regulation from La Liga that allows clubs to sign players outside of the transfer window? It is! And it’s coming to the rescue of Barcelona.
“Barcelona, poor things, who don’t have any strikers left – they’ve only got Griezmann and Messi – have been given special dispensation to get someone to score goals from them,” said James Richardson on the Euro edition of the Totally Football Show this week.
But why? Luckily we had Alvaro Romeo to explain.
“Ousmane Dembele is out, Luis Suarez is out, and in Spain, there is something you can do if you lose a player and you have a medical report to say he will miss the rest of the season: La Liga and the Spanish FA will give you permission to sign a player who plays in Spanish domestic football – it could be the second or third division – or a player who doesn’t have a team.”
On Monday Barca were indeed granted that special dispensation, so who will they sign?
“There are a few candidates, all of them know they will be signed only for a short period. One of them is Angel, who scored [for Getafe] against them this weekend. The other names are Lucas Perez – who played for Arsenal and West Ham – Willian Jose from Real Sociedad, Cristhian Stuani from Girona, Loren Moron from Betis, Enes Unal from Real Valladolid and Martin Braithwaite from Leganes.”
The latest reports indicate that it will be the latter who will arrive, which may amuse any Middlesbrough fans who witnessed him being not that good for them a couple of years ago. Braithwaite, a Danish forward who has in fairness done a little better in La Liga than he did on Teeside, managed nine goals over two seasons for Boro in the Championship, which isn’t usually the sort of record that makes Barcelona sit up and take notice.
But Barca have had to take notice, because they have no other choice.
Actually, scratch that, they do have a choice. They could simply muddle through until the end of the season with what they have – and with a front three of Ansu Fati, their most expensive ever signing and probably the greatest footballer to ever live, what they have is decent – or they could perhaps promote a player from the B team, or they could simply have just not entirely stuffed up their January transfer window, when they allowed Carles Perez to leave for Roma, thinking they were going to bring a striker in. Which they didn’t.
They were going to bring a striker in because they knew they had to: Suarez and Dembele have been out since the second week in January and November respectively, and while it was only confirmed that Dembele would miss the rest of the season last week, they have known for some time that cover is required, without resorting to a loophole that will screw over another club.
Because the team they get a player from won’t be able to sign a replacement. If it is Braithwaite, they will simply need to trigger his reported €20million release clause and there’s nothing Leganes can do about it. Leganes are second-bottom in La Liga but only two points from safety, and Braithwaite is their top-scorer. Barca’s carelessness could effectively relegate another team.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Alvaro. “This is something that has happened in the past in Spain, and for me who sees it as an outsider because I live in the UK, I just don’t get it. I don’t get how you can weaken a team so badly. We’re talking about February – the end of February, in fact. Barcelona can buy a striker from Getafe, who are trying to qualify for the Champions League and go far in the Europa League.”
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