On Wednesday, FIFA rejected Futbol Club Barcelona and the Real Federación de Fútbol's appeal against the transfer ban imposed by FIFA in April. The one-year transfer ban will take Barcelona out from signing any players in the January 2015 and summer 2015 transfer windows. Barcelona will be eligible to sign players in January 2016.
FIFA's official statement is as follows:
"The FIFA appeal committee has decided to reject the appeals lodged by Spanish club FC Barcelona and the Real Federacion Espanola de Futbol (RFEF) and to confirm in their entirety the decisions rendered by the FIFA disciplinary committee in the respective cases relating to the protection of minors."
Shortly after FIFA's decision, FC Barcelona announced they will take this matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The club released this statement:
"Following the resolution announced today by the FIFA Appeals Committee on violations of regulations regarding the transfer and registration of children aged under 18 years, FC Barcelona announces that it shall continue defending its interests before the highest sporting authority, in this case the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
FC Barcelona may not in any way share a resolution that is an affront to the spirit of our Masia, a world renowned example of academic, human and sporting education."
As of now, there is no timeline when the CAS will hear the case.
Xoel's Take (editorial)
This decision by FIFA was expected. There was no way the football police were going to back down such a severe decision they made to a club.
Barcelona now takes this matter to the CAS and to be honest, I believe the CAS will not change FIFA's ruling. At best, the CAS will call for a one-transfer window ban (January 2015), but I am not holding my breath for that to happen. This is a much different case than Luis Suarez's matter, so let's not compare the two. Besides, it's best to think in the worst-case scenario outlook than be too optimistic, only to be disappointed and angry later on.
This is Andoni Zubizarreta and Josep Bartomeu's greatest challenge: to try and secure a player so quickly. The club will be banned from signings, and with only a few days to go until this current transfer window closes, Zubi and Bartomeu must make big decisions and soon if they want to have a chance of bringing in a player.
Before we talk about whom Barcelona can sign, let me say that this transfer ban will obviously be a major hurdle for Josep Bartomeu and Andoni Zubizarreta to overcome for their reelection bid in 2016. If the CAS upholds the ban for a year, this current transfer window will be Zubi and Bartomeu's last impactful signing season before elections are held in 2016. As we all know, winter transfer windows are not the busiest, so don't expect much from the January 2016 window.
In my opinion, I don't see Bartomeu reelected. He was Sandro Rosell's right-hand man and we all know what Rosell did wrong and how he had to go. Legal problems are still in play for Rosell as well as Bartomeu. If, let's say, Joan Laporta runs for Barça president once again, you can be sure that he will use the transfer ban as ammunition toward Bartomeu and Zubi. Can one or two new signings help Zubi and Bartomeu's cause for reelection? Just a bit, but only if the team is successful. Even if Barcelona wins the next two Champions League titles, it's going to be very tough for Josep Bartomeu and Andoni Zubizarreta to stay as club leaders once the elections of 2016 take place.
Who to buy, if possible?
With the transfer ban approaching, it's time to take a risk and go for one last signing or two. Budget should not be an issue. As long as the Financial Fair Play is abided, money can and should be spent. In fact, the club should consider spending more than their original budget (as long as FFP is abided). The club won't be spending money on players for a year, and revenue will be earned for the 2016 transfer window, so there shouldn't be a concern of overspending the club's money. The club will be fine, financially.
I know this is all easier said than done. But with the transfer ban upon us, the time has come to take strong actions to further secure the success of this club for the next two seasons. This team will be fine, but a signing or two further enhances success. There is nothing left to save money for this season and looking like for next season as well. There is nothing left to hold out for.
According to multiple reports, Barcelona will acquire Brazilian CB Douglas soon. It's likely that the 24-year-old will stay at Sao Paulo on loan until 2015 before joining Barça.
According to Sport.es, Barcelona may look to sign Atletico Madrid's Koke. I, for one, do not believe this report. Koke signed a new contract with Atleti in June, pushing his wages up as well as his buyout clause from €24 million to €60 million. Koke was already approached by Barcelona and he turned them down. In an interview with AS.com, Koke expressed his desire to stay at Atleti. "The truth is that part of me said it was difficult to say no to Barça but I wanted to continue at home for many years at Atletico."
I respect Koke and his loyalty to his club. I don't think Zubi will call Atleti to try and sign a player who doesn't want to play for Barcelona. Plus, with a buyout clause of €60 million, Koke is more expensive than Juan Cuadrado (€40 million) and Marco Reus (€25-35 million). Plus, I can't see Diego Simeone giving the green light on a deal to send Koke away, even if Cholo and Atleti got to keep Koke for this season on loan. I doubt Atletico's leadership would sell Koke, knowing it would upset their manager/club icon.
Did I mention Koke already rejected Barcelona?!
Barcelona has enough money to spend on another signing. The name that should come up first is Juan Cuadrado and for obvious reasons. Cuadrado has been linked to the Catalans all summer, and it's known that manager Luis Enrique admires the Colombian's game. ACF Fiorentina is willing to sell him at the right (high) price of €40+ million.
Juan Cuadrado can play multiple positions on the right side of the pitch, and makes the most sense in signing, especially with Luis Suarez's ban until October and Dani Alves' departure in 2015. If signed, Cuadrado can play RW and RM this season and beyond and possibly fill in at RWB in 2015-16 when needed.
Another name that is being mentioned as possibly being signed is Borussia Dortmund midfielder/winger and Culé favorite Marco Reus. It's been reported that Reus' buyout clause is in the region of €25-35 million. With the player reluctant to sign a new contract as well as Bayern Munich monitoring the 25-year-old's situation, Dortmund may look to sell him-perhaps to Barça. Over the past two years, BVB has lost Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski to their rivals from Bavaria. It's safe to assume that Dortmund will look to sell Reus to anyone but Bayern. Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool have been linked to making a move for Reus.
There have been several reports and rumors out of Spain stating that Marco Reus and Barcelona have had a personal agreement in place for some time now. Before Wednesday, the likelihood of Barça and Dortmund reaching a deal on a Reus transfer was slim to none. Now, Barcelona may look to call BVB to see if a deal can be worked out before this current transfer window ends. It's been widely known that Zubi is a fan of Reus and has had the German high on his priority list for some time. Dortmund has made it clear that Reus is not for sale for now.
Is it possible that Zubi and Bartomeu can work something out this Dortmund? It's possible. The money is there, and if Barça agree to loan Reus to Dortmund for the 2014-15 season, it's not impossible that Dortmund could accept a €35 million + incentives offer. I doubt Dortmund would send Reus immediately to Barcelona if a deal is reached. The Bundesliga season has started and Dortmund wouldn't have enough time to make a signing of their own this transfer window with the money they'd receive for Marco.
Would I like to see Marco Reus at Barcelona? Of course! He's a great talent, is a closet Culé, and as we've seen these past two UEFA Champions League campaigns, Marco Reus gives Real Madrid a hard time. In essence, he would be cheaper than Cuadrado, as €35 million could get you Reus compared to the €40+ million Fiorentina is asking for Cuadrado.
Vamos barca— Marco Reus (@woodyinho) January 25, 2012
If I had to choose who I'd like to see join Barça, I'd go with Marco Reus, but you can't go wrong with Juan Cuadrado.
As much as Zubi, the Barça board and most Culés would like to see Marco Reus signed, as of right now, Juan Cuadrado looks like the favorite to join Barça over Reus due to the fact that he can join the club immediately. If €40+ million is delivered to Fiorentina's door tomorrow, the Italian club will practically pack Cuadrado's bags. As mentioned, if Reus is signed, a season-long loan is very likely to be part of Dortmund's request for a deal. Plus, wouldn't it take longer than ten days to work out a deal with Dortmund for a deal for Reus? I'd say so. Unless Zubi or Bartomeu has spoken to Dortmund in advance-anticipating FIFA to reject Barça's appeal-it's not impossible but still very difficult to get a deal in place in such a short amount of time for Marco Reus. Remember, Dortmund will still try to convince Reus to stay, something they can take all season to do. Also, how would the Dortmund fans treat Reus all season if he signed with Barça? Would they boo him? Would Reus care about this? It's all complicated, to say the least.
Best chance of joining Barça: Cuadrado
Who most Culés (and Zubi) would like to see signed: Reus
Very unlikely: Koke
Xoel's Final Word
The transfer ban is here. FC Barcelona might as well look to spend the all the cash they (legally) can within the next few days.
There is officially nothing left to lose.
Of course the biggest hurdle is time. Is there enough time to get any deal done?
We'll know the answer by the 1st of September.
Xoel, The Voice of Els Culés and the host/creator of "This Week in Barça" every Monday on SB Nation.