Barcelona's transfer ban explained: Youth players to get opportunity but silverware could suffer
Barcelona will not be able to make any signings in 2015, it has been confirmed, after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) upheld FIFA's decision to punish the club with a ban for two consecutive bans.
FIFA issued the ban in April after the Catalan giants were found guilty of repeatedly breaking transfer regulations, and world football's governing body also rejected an appeal in August.
After taking their appeal to CAS, which was also rejected, Barcelona face the prospect of having to keep their money in their pockets until 2016.
So what does it mean for Luis Enrique's side on the pitch?
We've broken the ban down and looked at how Barca will be affected off the pitch.
WHY HAVE THEY BEEN BANNED?
They broke rules after signing international under-18 players.
FIFA rules state that international transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 - unless the individual players meets one of three qualifying criteria.
According to the FIFA, 'Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.'
The identity of the players in question has been made confidential by FIFA.
HOW DID THEY MANAGE TO SIGN PLAYERS THIS SUMMER?
The signings of Luis Suarez, Thomas Vermaelen, Claudio Bravo and Marc-Andre ter Stegen were all made after the ban was suspended while Barcelona made their appeal.
Altogether, the club spent over £100m on players in the summer and prepared for their upcoming ban knowing full well it was likely their appeal would be rejected.
Barcelona's summer signings:
Luis Suarez (£75m from Liverpool)
Thomas Vermaelen (£15m from Arsenal)
Claudio Bravo (£7.2m from Real Sociedad)
Ivan Rakitic (undisclosed from Sevilla)
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (undisclosed from Borussia Monchengladbach)
Jeremy Mathieu (undisclosed from Valencia)
Jordi Masip (free from Barcelona B)
Rafinha (recalled from loan at Celta Vigo)
Players out on loan:
DO THEY NEED TO SIGN MORE PLAYERS?
The jury is out among many Barcelona fans as to whether their defence is good enough to last the entire season.
Dani Alves has lost the extra yard of pace he once had and regularly requires midfield dynamo Ivan Rakitic to get him out of trouble, which in turn destabilises the midfield.
Gerard Pique, Marc Bartra, Jeremy Mathieu and Javier Mascherano are a good group of core defenders but they could ideally do with a right-back who has the right blend of defensive and attacking qualities - essentially a younger Alves.
As for midfield, Xavi and Iniesta were once the best midfield duo in world football but age is starting to catch up on them and Ivan Rakitic, as good as he is, cannot be put in the same bracket as the Spaniards.
OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNGSTERS?
Regarded by many as the 'new Sergio Busquets', highly-rated Sergi Samper is a defensive midfielder with an excellent passing range and reading of the game. He has been tipped to be one of the first Barcelona players who will be given an opportunity to shine.
Attacking midfielder Alen Halilovic could be fastracked into the first team following the news of the ban, while fullback Alex Grimaldo is even more likely to be promoted from Barcelona B to the senior squad afer a series of impressive performances
Forwards Gerard Deulofeu and Denis Suarez could also both feature following their loan spells at Sevilla, while Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez are expected to make inroads in the coming months.
WILL THEIR TROPHY HOPES TAKE A HIT?
With an inadequate defence and declining midfield, Barcelona's ban is likely to see them suffer even further this season.
Offloading Cesc Fabregas to Chelsea is a decision they're likely to regret in the long-term but being unable to bolster their squad in the January window means that challenging on all fronts this season is quite simply mission impossible.
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