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Barcelona were allowed to sign a player by the rules, Leganés were not

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The rule may be unfair, but it was already in place

SSC Napoli v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

To hear some commentators, you’d think La Liga gave special permission for Barcelona to sign Martin Braithwaite from Leganés, then rejected giving that permission to Leganés to sign a replacement.

I think people are genuinely confused about this, while others are conveniently leaving out the truth to suit an agenda or get outrage clicks.

La Liga has, for years now, allowed teams to sign one player outside of the transfer window as a replacement for an injured player who is out for more than 5 months. This is a rule that has been available for every team for years and is still available for any team.

The rulebook does not allow teams to make a signing if one of theirs is taken through this rule. This may be poor planning, and perhaps La Liga should have made exceptions. (But perhaps not - this is a different conversation.)

Without a doubt, Braithwaite’s transfer had to go through in any case. You can’t institute a rule, then take it back the first time anyone tried to use it. This was not a special permission granted, but simply following the rules.

Leganés were in fact asking for special permission. You have to feel sorry for them, as they’re fighting relegation and lost perhaps their best player. But you can see why the two situations are not at all the same.

Leganés have publicly said Barcelona did nothing wrong, as they simply followed the rules. It’s the rules, they say, that have a problem. Going forward, the logical thing to do is to either scrap the rule, or only allow a signing if it is approved by both sides.