Barca transfer ban a boost for the Premier League
While Barcelona will be rueing their one-year transfer ban, Premier League clubs will be popping the Cava with the realisation that the Catalans cannot move for their players.
Published 02/04/2014 | 17:44
The punishment might relate only to Barcelona but the impact of a transfer ban until the summer of 2015 will have a ripple effect that will be felt throughout European football.
First and foremost, a major competitor of Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal for the world's outstanding talent has temporarily been taken out of the equation. It will make both recruiting and keeping players that little bit easier.
David Luiz, for example, is a centre-back who could fit ideally into the Barcelona style and system but may very well be regarded by others as too much of a risk. It is certainly hard to think of another club who would pay upwards of £25 million for his mercurial talents and the chances of him staying at Chelsea beyond this summer have just increased.
Another defender being seriously considered by Barcelona was Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels. Has a door just been opened for one of the Manchester clubs or Liverpool in their pursuit of added centre-back strength this summer?
Barcelona have also traditionally been Arsenal's main rival for the word's best teenage players and, although this market is now actively pursued by every major club in Europe, the most iconic training centre for any emerging talent has had its doors shut for the next year.
A deal had been set up for Barcelona to sign Alen Halilovic, a 17-year-old Croatian who has been compared to Lionel Messi at the same age. A scramble for his signature will surely now ensue.
The impact will also be keenly felt at the senior end of the transfer market. Where would Neymar, for example, now be playing his football if this ban had happened this time last year?
It is no secret that Barcelona, like Chelsea and Arsenal, were desperate to sign a new striker this summer. Atlético Madrid's Diego Costa is now more likely than ever to be playing in the Premier League next season, while any fear on Merseyside that Barcelona might come after Luis Suárez has just evaporated.
Equally intriguing is the impact on the existing Barcelona squad. Players with contracts beyond the end of the season must stay, meaning that any lingering hope of bringing Cesc Fabregas to Old Trafford United can be forgotten. Barcelona will also be unable to offload a fringe player like Alex Song, who may very well have returned to the Premier League this summer.
A new question-mark now hangs over the futures of two of the club's all-time greats. Both Víctor Valdés and Carles Puyol were due to leave the club this summer but these decisions will surely now be reviewed. Barcelona were lining up Borussia Mönchengladbach's Marc-André ter Stegen as the £10 million goalkeeping replacement to Valdés, who is out for the rest of the season with a serious knee injury.
That signing surely cannot now be completed, meaning perhaps Valdés could be offered a new contract to see the club through the next year. Equally, will Ter Stegen be willing to wait another year for his move to a Champions League club?
Dani Alves is also out of contract this summer. With Barcelona unable to recruit another right-back, his negotiating position has surely just been transformed. The obvious wider risk is of an already ageing squad further stagnating.
Since their brilliant Champions League triumph at Wembley in 2011, there has been the very clear sense that this great Barcelona team was in gradual decline. It will now be much harder to tackle that slide.
One potential positive, though, is that the opportunities for young players from the famed La Masia academy are likely to grow over this next year. We will see more of developing talent like Marc Bartra in central defence than might previously have been the case.
Indeed, the only blessing of the transfer ban might be the enforced acceleration in the experience and opportunity next season for the next generation of homegrown Barcelona players.