Less than 24 hours after claiming their second ever treble, Barcelona made their first signing of the summer. The club brought in Sevilla’s Aleix Vidal, who also just earned his first ever call up to the Spanish national side at 25 years old. Wait a minute, I thought Barcelona were in the middle of a yearlong ban that stopped them from bringing new players to the club? How can they sign somebody right now? Well, let’s take a look at how the Spanish champions can still be a major player in this summer’s transfer window and the ban that could handicap their spending.
It all started last season when FIFA originally imposed a two-window transfer ban on the club due to a violation in rules when it came to signing youth players. The original ban would have prevented Barcelona from registering players during the 2014 summer window and 2015 January window, however, an appeal from the club postponed the sanctions and allowed the Catalan club to bring in players like Luis Suárez, who just scored the winner in the Champions League final, Marc-André ter Stegen, who started the final in net, Claudio Bravo, the starting goalkeeper for the club’s La Liga campaign, and Ivan Rakitic, who scored the opener against Juventus on Saturday. Without these marquee signings, it is unlikely that Barca would have been able to complete their historic treble-winning season.
A failed appeal on the transfer ban means that the club is now banned from registering players for this summer’s transfer window and the upcoming January window as well. The key phrase in that punishment is a ban on “registering” new players. What this means is that Barcelona are still fully capable of completing transfers of players like Vidal, but these new signings will not be able to play in official matches for their new club until after January 2016. This means that any new players brought into the club will likely be loaned out for the first half of the 2015-16 campaign, and if they aren’t loaned out they will still be able to participate in training sessions but they will have to watch every match from the stands.
This type of situation makes even a massive club like Barcelona a less attractive destination for star players like Paul Pogba, who Barcelona’s president Josep Bartomeu confirmed as a top target for the club. A player of Pogba’s caliber is unlikely to sign for a club knowing that they will be unable to play for the first half of a season, and a player of that quality is unlikely to want to spend a couple of months on loan with a presumably smaller club.
However, younger players may still be enchanted by the allure of joining a proven champion and push for a move to the Camp Nou. It would be hard for any player to reject an approach from a club that has won four league titles, two domestic cups, and two more Champions League titles within the last five years. Not to mention they would have the opportunity of a lifetime to work with players like Lionel Messi, Neymar and Suárez on a daily basis.
In summary, for the next two transfer windows, Barcelona will be able to “sign” players but these players will not be able to suit up in the famous striped kit until after the FIFA sanctions expire. This makes the Spanish club somewhat less attractive for superstar players this summer, but the prestige and title-winning culture that are present in the Catalan capital allows them to still be a major player when fighting for up-and-coming talent.