5 Players Who Can Benefit from Barcelona's Transfer Ban
With the announcement of FC Barcelona's 14-month transfer ban this week, speculation surrounding the future of many players at the club has mounted immeasurably.
According to BBC Sport, the club "cannot buy players until the summer of 2015," leaving them in a tight spot.
With Transfermarkt indicating that the contracts of goalkeepers Victor Valdes and Jose Pinto are expiring in July, as well as the end of icon Carles Puyol's tenure at the Catalan club coming at the season's closure, the La Liga club will likely be frantically looking to plug many gaps.
However, with the club's much-vaunted squad depth—both in the senior and youth squads—there are many ready-made options available for next season.
Naturally, the club will launch an appeal against the ban, and as with current trend—seen with Chelsea's recent transfer ban—this measure will likely be rescinded. However, as of now speculation is warranted.
Here are five players who may benefit from Barcelona's transfer ban next season.
Marc Bartra, Centre-Back
With Sky Sports reporting that Puyol is expected to leave the club, a long-term spot as first-team centre-back will open up.
The natural, in-house solution to this problem is 23-year-old ex-Espanyol youth product Marc Bartra.
Having already deputised for the tangle-haired veteran this season, often alternating with Javier Mascherano alongside Gerard Pique, Bartra boasts vital experience at a top level.
According to Squawka, the 6-footer has made 15 league appearances so far this season and won an impressive 73 percent of take ons attempted and 69 percent of headed duels encountered. Elsewhere, the youngster has a pass accuracy of 91 percent, equal to that of current first choice Pique.
At such a young age, Bartra looks comfortable as part of Barcelona's back four and would benefit in Puyol's stead if Barcelona were unable to sign a more established replacement.
Martin Montoya, Full-Back
Having signed a new, long-term contract with the club last week, versatile defender Martin Montoya looks set for a promising future at Barcelona.
According to BBC Sport, the 22-year-old natural right-back signed an extension that will him keep with the club until 2018, with a release clause of around £16.65 million.
Whilst remaining behind Dani Alves in the pecking order in terms of the right flank, Montoya is also able to play as both a left-back and a centre-back. This versatility will be to his benefit next season—particularly with the departure of Carles Puyol.
Montoya may likely find his starting options continually limited next season due to the imperious form of the Brazilian, but this contract extension is a clear signal of faith shown by the club. The defender will be looking to establish himself as a regular first-teamer.
Gerard Deulofeu, Forward
Currently on a season-long loan at Premier League top four hopefuls Everton, Spanish forward Gerard Deulofeu may look to kick on with his career in La Liga in light of Barcelona's transfer ban.
According to Catalunya Radio (h/t Sky Sports), the 20-year-old is looking to return to the club after his loan spell:
I am working every day to get back to Barcelona next season. I watch all their matches and believe that they are having a good season. My dream is to find a place in the Barcelona attacking line-up and to do that I am progressing in the Premier League.
Whilst Barcelona's current attacking options are exceptional, Deulofeu may be offered more opportunities after a successful spell with the Toffees.
Squawka attributes the winger with three goals and three assists in 19 league appearances—many of which have come from the bench—and an impressive shot accuracy of 78 percent, which is higher than any other Everton player who has featured more than five times.
As the Premier League is often regarded as a more competitive league than La Liga, Deulofeu may be proving his credentials at the optimum time. A return to Barcelona next season could be beneficial.
Sergi Roberto, Midfield
With legendary midfielder Xavi growing increasingly old, making only 24 league appearances so far this season according to WhoScored.com, Barcelona could be looking to sign a prospective replacement somewhere in the near future.
The 34-year-old himself named Atletico Madrid playmaker Koke as his international successor in an interview with Barca's official website (h/t International Business Times) and this could be extended to speculation of a club move.
However, a transfer ban would naturally, temporarily, put paid to this.
An in-house option to lighten the load of the Spanish international is Sergi Roberto, a 22-year-old central midfielder who is beginning to feature more regularly for the Catalan club.
Likely to feature again next season, Roberto can be hopeful of a more regular place in the Barcelona first team.
Another player who, like Roberto, may feature more heavily in the Barcelona midfield next season is current Celta Vigo loanee Rafinha Alcântara.
Brother of former Barcelona starlet Thiago, Rafinha has impressed throughout his loan spell. According to FCBarcelona.com, he was awarded La Liga's Player of the Month in February.
Squawka indicates that the Brazilian has created the most chances (42) for Celta Vigo by far this season and has won an average of 60 percent of his defensive duels.
Returning for next season, the 21-year-old may be looking to compete with Roberto as Xavi's deputy.
Which player(s) do you think will benefit the most from Barcelona's transfer ban? Let us know in the comments below.