Barcelona's recent transfer ban is still sinking in, but fresh on the back of FIFA's official sanction, the 10 players alleged to have been immorally signed by the Spanish side have come to light.
The Blaugrana are unable to sign any players after multiple breaches of the governing body's rules surrounding the acquisition of individuals under 18. Luis. F. Rojo of Marca revealed nine names who fall into this category and suggests Antonio Sanabria is an unconfirmed 10th, as detailed below:
|Name||Current Age Group||Nationality|
|Lee Seung Woo||Under-16s||South Korean|
|Chan Kyul Hee||Under-16s||South Korean|
|Paik Seung Ho||Under-18s||South Korean|
|Antonio Sanabria (TBC)||Sassuolo||Paraguayan|
Rojo suggests Lee Seung Woo's signing was the pivotal one, leading to a ban that could severely impact Barca's progress until the summer of 2015:
It is this player, who was signed after the 2011 Danone Cup in South Africa that has given rise to the Catalan club's suspension. In 2013, FIFA banned Barcelona from fielding Lee Seung Woo – considered the jewel in Barça's academy crown – for breaching article 19 of the Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players.
Barcelona confirmed their intentions to battle the punishment in a tribunal hearing via their official response, in which the club pointed to its educational program and commitment to youngsters as a defence against any wrongdoing.
Chelsea successfully appealed a transfer ban in 2010, but the football community appears unconvinced this situation is comparable. Indeed, AS suggests Barca will struggle to bypass such a major ruling:
Barça appear to be arguing the rules shouldn't apply to them because La Masia is a model place to train young sportspeople.— AS English (@English_AS) April 2, 2014
Our sources say the rules were written "with extreme care" and Barça will struggle to get round them - http://t.co/1dS0KJwlom— AS English (@English_AS) April 2, 2014
A failure to overturn the ban will leave the club's expected moves for Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Alen Halilovic in trouble, confirmed by Guillem Balague on talkSPORT. Indeed, Tancredi Palmeri of beIN Sport also confirmed comments from ter Stegen's agent that suggest the German goalkeeper won't be moving to Catalonia:
Ter Stegen's agent: "In this very moment the move of Ter Stegen to Barcelona is ruled out"— Tancredi Palmeri (@tancredipalmeri) April 3, 2014
Andy West of BBC Sport details a timeline of two years in which Barcelona's "golden image" has been "shattered." Lionel Messi's tax-evasion court case, the alleged appropriation of improper funds for Neymar's move and the transfer ban are highlighted as the club's three worst moments during a turbulent spell that also saw president Sandro Rosell step down.
Ed Arons of The Guardian suggests Barcelona should have seen the ban coming, saying it is "now more than a year" since FIFA president Sepp Blatter "publicly backed the imposition of sanctions relating to six Barça players which prevented them from playing competitive games despite being registered and allowed to train with the club."
It's certainly a difficult situation to judge. At current standing, Gerardo Martino's plans for a spot of summer spending are in tatters. This means players who have already confirmed they are leaving—Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol—may be pressured into inking a one-year extension. It also means there will be at least two years between FCB's last signing, that of Neymar, and their next.
The 10 names outlined on Rojo's list are certainly crammed with talent. Lee Seung Woo is regarded as the gem of this selection, while Sanabria's ascension to a senior Serie A player highlights his personal progress.
Barcelona fans face an anxious wait. If the club appeals, it's likely the ban can be held off until after the summer. If FIFA rebut the La Liga giant's response, the impact is likely to be severe.