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FIFA transfer bans put Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in limbo
FIFA have handed Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid a body blow with a potential two-year transfer ban for breaching its rules on registering overseas players under the age of eighteen. Assuming Barcelona beat relegation embattled Sporting Gijon with their game in hand, Atletico and Real currently sit second and third, respectively, in the La Liga table, and watched on as Barca won the league and Champions League last season, but this pain has been put into perspective by FIFA’s potentially game-changing full-year ban.
The Madrid clubs will rush to complete what amounts to two years’ worth of transfers in the current January transfer window before the ban is imposed, although they are currently filing an appeal to the Spanish Court of Arbitration for Sport to at least allow them to do deals this coming summer.
The ban puts the clubs’ headline stars in limbo, given it significantly changes their short-term outlook, which relies on the ability to dive into the transfer market equally for both teams. For Real, it could prevent them from boosting their squad superstar reinforcements, and is equally as dangerous for Altetico should it undermine the confidence of their current squad.
At the Santiago Bernabeu, it darkens the ever-present clouds of potential exits by Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale. Zinedine Zidane would become be more reliant on the two stars during the ban. Ronaldo’s current contract ends in 2018 — leaving little residual value to Real in terms of a transfer fee after the ban is lifted.
For Atletico, Manager Diego Simeone has already been rumored to make a move outside La Liga, and the loss of top-scorer Antoine Griezmann would have the potential to be just as big of a blow considering the transfer ban.
With that in mind, Real and Atletico have aligned their focus on this current January transfer window. Real will be looking to capture a few long-term targets, most notably Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea. Last summer, a deadline-day swoop for the Spanish international fell apart only due to paper-work issues, but the transfer ban might force Real’s hand to finally close out the deal.
They’ve also been linked with Chelsea attacking-midfielder Eden Hazard and given the Belgian is reaching his prime at the age of twenty-five, it may be a now-or-never situation for Real. Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero, who is already twenty-seven-years-old is certainly in the same boat. Paul Pogba is almost certainly up there with Hazard or Real’s list, although he is young enough to hold off until after the transfer ban on, the only worry being that Barcelona or another club jump in the way.
It’s worth remembering, though, that the ban doesn’t prevent Real from signing players, but from registering them to play. They could conceivably, then, follow in the footsteps of Barcelona, who signed Atleti star Arda Turan over the summer despite a similar year-long transfer ban and simply loan Pogba back out to Juve until the end of the ban. The same applies for rumored English targets Tottenham Hotspur-forward Harry Kane and Everton center-back John Stones.
Atleti have shuffled their way to the top of the league by developing lesser-known talent from smaller markets, but that doesn’t make the ban any less hindering for the 2013/2014 Champions League finalists. Indeed, they will be forced to player their cards regarding rumors over a potential swoop for their former forward Diego Costa, who has taken a large part of the brunt of Chelsea’s recent struggles.
Of course if, as was the case for Barcelona, the two clubs are successful in postponing the ban for one additional window during their appeal, then next summer could become even busier as the clubs seek to horde players in anticipation of their transfer-lean year ahead. We know which way lovers over the summer transfer rumor mills will be favoring.
Photo credit: By Chris Deahr (Ronaldo vs. FC Schalke 04) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons