Barcelona nervously wait to see if their appeal against FIFA's transfer ban is successful, and between now and then, Real Madrid and neighbours Atletico will be dreaming about what might happen next season.
As has been widely discussed, Barcelona need to strengthen in a few key areas in the summer, but because of their recent punishment, they may not be able to purchase players until June 2015.
We know that Carles Puyol is quitting in the summer and Victor Valdes plans to leave on a free transfer, which means the defence and goalkeeper positions need shoring up.
There were already issues with the defence anyway, with Gerard Pique and Javier Mascherano not an ideal partnership.
Barcelona need an energetic midfielder too, and that will have to wait.
Alex Song was linked with a move to Manchester United, as per The Metro’s Dave Filmer and Barcelona wanted to replace him with someone who has a bit more spark.
Jose Manuel Pinto will have to keep goal for Barcelona next season if the ban is not removed, meaning Marc-Andre ter Stegen will not be able to move to Camp Nou.
He is not considered good enough by most for Barcelona to use as a first choice goalkeeper, and at 38, he is coming toward the end of his career.
The overall impact on Barcelona is an already far-from-solid defence will be weakened further.
That leaves the doors open for rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid to take the reins at the top of the league.
Real Madrid have been undone by Barcelona twice this season, firstly at Camp Nou and then again at the Bernabeu.
The 4-3 defeat in the recent Clasico was a big blow for Carlo Ancelotti's side, and it upset their momentum, with Los Blancos losing the next match at Sevilla.
It was a finely balanced game, which swung Barcelona's way after Sergio Ramos was sent off.
Given the teams are of relatively equal strength, if the Blaugrana were weakened, you would expect Madrid to have an edge.
They would also have an edge when it comes to the acquisition of new players—obviously.
With Barcelona unable to buy, Madrid would have the greatest spending power and pull in La Liga.
Where players like Alen Halilovic, whom Real Madrid wanted, as per Simon Jones of the Daily Mail, decided to move to Barcelona, now there will be only one option steeped in a history of success.
Some of Europe's biggest clubs have taken to stockpiling attacking talent recently, and Barcelona would fall one step behind on that front.
Real Madrid have a plethora of attacking options, from Gareth Bale to Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo to Angel di Maria.
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain also have flooded their teams with the best attackers from across the globe.
Barcelona have plenty of fine forward options as well, but the ability to chop and change means they cannot fix any gaps that appear or shuffle their pack.
Even though the ban is only for two transfer windows, if the club's league position and Champions League performance drops then, even beyond the end of the ban, players may prefer Madrid.
Diego Simeone and Atletico, meanwhile, will be looking forward to capitalising as best they can too.
The Argentine manager is frequently complaining about the spending power of Real Madrid and Barcelona when compared to his side.
As long as Atletico continue to perform well this season, then he too may be able to attract some talent that otherwise might have preferred a move to the Camp Nou.
There are also other clubs which will be impacted by the ban.
If Barcelona decide to bring back loan players like Gerard Deulofeu, Rafinha and even Bojan, then clubs like Everton, Celta Vigo and Ajax—or any other club they would have played for next season—will lose out, respectively.
But for Real and Atletico, the sanctions against Barcelona couldn’t have come at a better time, with the squad in need of improvement.
Barcelona will still be one of the strongest sides in La Liga, but when the margins are so fine—as displayed by this season’s close title race—then every little bit counts.
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