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FIFA’s Transfer Ban: How Will It Affect Barcelona?

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Simply put, 2014 has not been a good year for Barcelona’s supporters so far.

First, Blaugrana fans saw Lionel Messi’s arch rival, Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo pip the talismanic no. 10 to win his second Ballon d’Or in January. Then came the scandal that had been rumbling all season–the much speculated transfer of former Santos star Neymar–and in the aftermath, president Sandro Rosell resigned in disgrace with a shadow now hanging over his legacy at Camp Nou.

It’s often said that bad things come in threes, and indeed, three months after the Neymar’s saga came the biggest bombshell: FIFA handed down a two window transfer ban after finding some questionable practices regarding the transfer of minors. Naturally, with the club set to challenge the ruling, it yet remains to be seen whether the Catalan giants will find themselves unable to make any acquisitions during the transfer windows of summer 2014 and winter 2015.

But, assuming that the ban does stand come this summer, how will it affect the club? With Victor Valdes declaring that this season was his last at Camp Nou before his injury, and second-choice goalkeeper Jose Pinto approaching 40 in a few years, the 4-time Champions League winners had earmarked the position between the posts as one key area that needed strengthening before next season. The signature of rising German star Marc-Andre ter Stegen from Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach was highly key in resolving their issue, but now looks to be in doubt as FIFA have refused to budge so far following their ruling.

Club captain Carles Puyol, who has faithfully served the club for nearly two decades (counting his stint with the youth squad) is another who has decided to call time on his storied career at the end of the season. As a result, Barcelona had earmarked numerous defenders across Europe in an attempt to fill the void , but with this ban they might have to resort to calling on younger players such as Marc Bartra who lack the experience needed to be a stalwart of the team’s back-line.

Whilst the club can sell players, they can’t acquire anyone else–hence as a result, they might have to hang on to fringe players for just a bit longer. Or, turn to their famed youth academy and promote youngsters faster than they had liked. Another option is obviously to recall some of their on-loan players, with notable examples being Bojan Krkic over at Ajax and Gerard Deulofeu at Everton and quickly re-integrate them into the squad. However, whatever they decide to do, it’s clear that the organization known as “Mes que un club” certainly has been brought down a notch, and as to what impact this will have on their domestic and continental campaigns next season yet remains to be seen.