The FIFA Appeal Committee has in recent days rejected the appeal, explanations and defence of FC Barcelona with regards to their transfer ban. Therefore, Barcelona will be unable to buy new players until January 2016 once the present transfer window closes. Barcelona will appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but the likelihood of a reversal appears slim.
Luis Enrique and Andoni Zubizarreta have both suggested that Barcelona fans should expect more signings. This message is only likely to intensify with the transfer ban being upheld by FIFA. But the ban should not come as a shock or a surprise. Barcelona have known for several months that they would be banned from making transfers for two transfer windows.
Indeed, some have even argued that even allowing Barcelona to function as normal in this transfer window during the appeal process renders the ban largely ineffective, if not entirely redundant.
Rumours persist that Barcelona will make huge bids to land a big star given that they will not be able to sign any players for some time. Speculation suggests that Barcelona will try to sign either Atletico Madrid's Koke or Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus before loaning them back to their original clubs for the season to try and sweeten the deals. Fiorentina’s Juan Cuadrado has also been mentioned as a possible target. Some sources have even mentioned that Barcelona will be making a move with a view to signing all three players. This is so desperately unrealistic that it is without a doubt bordering on Football Manager territory.
The case for Koke is crystal clear, but his signing is very difficult to achieve, almost impossible even. He recently extended his contract until 2019. "The truth is that part of me said it was difficult to say no to Barca but I wanted to continue at home for many years at Atletico," Koke told AS towards the beginning of August. It is unlikely he will suddenly change his mind in such a short space of time.
Esther Blasco and Toni Juanmarti of Sport write: "The plan is to continue to sign the Atletico midfielder, and Barcelona will therefore submit a competitive offer that allows for the deal to be completed quickly. Since it is impossible for Simeone to accept Koke’s transfer this year, the intent of the club is to let the player go on loan this season to get him back at the end of this season."
Koke has developed into an extremely talented midfielder who could play anywhere across the midfield, with the rare gift for both controlling the game and playing the final pass. He boasts excellent one-touch-passing, dead-ball skills and has developed a knack for arriving late into the box and then either scoring or assisting.
Indeed, Koke’s brilliance recently led Xavi to say: "Koke is an extraordinary footballer. He has everything: talent, physical ability, he is a footballer of the present and the future."
"He has been marked out as the conductor of Spain's orchestra for the next 10 years," Xavi said in an interview published on Atletico's website.
The case for Reus is equally clear, but probably equally difficult now that Suarez has arrived. Yet it is not ruled out that a move for Reus can be arranged within the next few days, according to El Mundo Deportivo.
Various sources have reported that Zubizarreta wanted Reus to begin with, but that Luis Enrique preferred Luis Suarez, that is common knowledge. Yet it would take quite something special for them to be able to capture Marco Reus now as well.
Marco Reus is a brilliant player, easily one of the best players in his position. He is very flexible, in that he can play anywhere along the midfield, including as an attacking midfielder. He has immense talent, blistering speed and a somewhat otherworldly technique. His drive is a joy to behold and he would be a perfect fit to the Barcelona values and system.
It seems that the Douglas deal from Sao Paulo is pretty much a done deal; with him reportedly very close signing for Barcelona, with everything agreed and only the mere formalities to comply with, according to the Sao Paulo President, Carlos Miguel Aidar. Douglas will go on loan for a year to Sao Paulo before returning to Barcelona in 2015. Many have criticised Douglas, but he is seen by the Barcelona board as being the ‘new Dani Alves’ with his speed and very offensive outlook. With an article recently having been written on the pros and cons of signing Juan Cuadrado, and the general consensus from the poll by about a 60:40 majority indicating he is really needed and would make a great signing, there is therefore not much of a need to make a case for him on this occasion.
The problem with all three potential deals is a common denominator: Price. Financial Fair Play (FFP). They are all very expensive and will no doubt require very high wages. Another difficulty comes in the way of convincing the club to sell. There is no overwhelming reason of why any of the clubs need to sell, especially so late in the transfer window with little to no time to get a replacement. But then again they are all world class players, and as the saying goes: "You get what you pay for". On top of that, if one of them does arrive, keeping players happy in the 2015-2016 season could be a difficulty. But the counter-argument to this is a convincing one, especially if Barcelona can find a way around the FFP rules. Because as things stand, Barcelona will not be making any signings in the next winter (they very rarely do anyway) or the next summer transfer windows. Thus, they should be able to spend a bit more in this window.
Interestingly, Sport readers are pretty unanimous in what they want. In a poll taken by the Catalan newspaper's website, at the time of writing, 85% want Barcelona to sign Marco Reus. Only a mere 15% want Koke. This massive difference could be for a plethora of reasons. A reason could be that Marco Reus has previously shown his eagerness to sign, whereas Koke has recently rejected Barcelona. Another could be that Reus is simply a better fit. Make of it what you will. There is the hint that this could just be the case of Sport and El Mundo Deportivo keeping their readers engaged and on their toes with really exciting rumours. The two respective newspapers will be a lot quieter next summer without all the fanciful rumours. It is perhaps a case of every cloud has a silver lining. Another, of course, is that "Barcelona aren't the governing bodies' favourites the way some make them out to be. Not seeing a reduction in this ban, nor in that of new signing Luis Suarez, should put an end to that conspiracy theory", according to Karl Matchett of the Bleacher Report.
In an ideal world, any one of the three signings would be perfect. It’s fair to say a case can be made for each one of the three. Koke can play anywhere along the midfield and has the potential become the heartbeat and orchestra chief conductor of Barcelona’s midfield. Reus’ flexibility and incredible talent makes him a fantastic potential signing. He could play anywhere in attack including as an attacking midfielder. Flexibility and talent are also key assets for Cuadrado. The signing of either Reus or Cuadrado seems more likely than Koke. Yet this writer would personally not be surprised if only Douglas and perhaps another low-profile player are bought before the transfer window closes. It should not be forgotten that Barcelona have a great amount of depth and some brilliant Barcelona B players coming through, thus, none of the three aforementioned players can really be considered to be "absolutely essential". It is probably more essential for the likes of Josep Maria Bartomeu and Andoni Zubizarreta with it being their last chance of making an impactful signing before the upcoming 2016 elections.
The club have known for a while that they will be banned for the next two transfer windows, and pending an unlikely CAS reversal, the situation is likely to remain as it is. A knee-jerk reaction would be bizarre, not to mention desperate. Barcelona failed to buy a centre-back in 5 years, it remains to be seen if/how they will be able to secure the signing of one of Koke, Reus or Cuadrado in the remaining 10 days. It is certainly easier said than done. For now, it seems to be more of a case of fantasy football rather than realistic football.
But far sillier things have happened in silly season. So, we put the question to you, Koke, Marco Reus or Juan Cuadrado?
- Transfer Ban is Coming for Barcelona: Who Should Barça Quickly Sign?
- FC Barcelona News: 20 August 2014; FIFA Reject Transfer Ban Appeal, Barça Take Case to CAS, Luis Suarez Presented
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- "This Week in Barça" starring Xoel Càrdenas: Week of August 19th, 2014
- Joan Gamper Trophy: FC Barcelona 6-0 Club Leon: Match Review