Barcelona vice president Manel Arroyo has confirmed the club is currently putting together its appeal against the transfer ban recently imposed by FIFA, saying he expects the Catalan giants to be able to sign players during the summer.
The Blaugrana were recently slapped with a transfer ban that is set to last two windows after immorally signing 10 players under the age of 18, per FIFA's official statement. Arroyo suggests an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport will slow the final decision down and allow Barca to operate as usual during the summer window, per the Daily Mail:
We're working on an appeal that will give us an interim suspension of the transfer ban. We want to have a normal summer. We're convinced that we will be able to sign new players. It's a significant ban and our legal team is working so that we'll be able to sign new players this summer.
A suspended punishment would certainly work in favour of Gerardo Martino. The Barca boss desperately needs to address voids in his squad—most notably, he needs a new goalkeeper, centre-back and replacement for the ageing Xavi—meaning he may be forced into spending quickly during the next open market.
Barca's post-announcement press conference signalled an "us vs. them" mentality from the side. President Josep Bartomeu, freshly in the role after Sandro Rosell stepped down due to the Neymar transfer scandal, suggested an outside party aimed to damage Barca by tipping FIFA off on the rule breaks.
Lee Roden of Segunda provided quotes:
Bartomeu: "We have some evidence that leads us to think someone wants to hurt our club. We won't stop looking. There is important evidence."— Lee Roden (@LeeRoden89) April 3, 2014
Bartomeu: "We won't renounce our academy and it's models. La Masia won't be touched, that's the message we want to send."— Lee Roden (@LeeRoden89) April 3, 2014
Despite Bartomeu saying La Masia "won't be touched," Arroyo suggests its policies may be revised to coincide with FIFA rules, per the Daily Mail:
We'll study the formats in which youth football currently works in order to improve the process. We constantly self-analyse. If there are any processes that take us to the brink of breaking any rule, we'll revise it. There's an ongoing internal investigation.
Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC summed up the mood that Barca may be stretching beyond their own culpability during a difficult situation:
Barca seem to be accepting they broke the rules, want to get away with it & still blame unknown evildoers for pointing out what happened.— Dermot Corrigan (@dermotmcorrigan) April 3, 2014
Upon suggestions Real Madrid had a part to play in the saga, Los Blancos' third president Pedro Lopez Jimenez issued a statement denying any involvement from the capital, told to AS and reported by Football Espana, via Eurosport:
"Neither Real Madrid nor myself as a member of FIFA have anything to do with the punishment given to Barcelona," said Jimenez.
The transfer ban will certainly have a huge impact on the club. Deals for Borussia Monchengladbach goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Croatian starlet Alen Halilovic are agreed but yet to be confirmed under the new sanctions, reported by Guillem Balague during an interview with talkSPORT.
If the original ban is imposed, many Barca fans may think back to the club's decision to cash in on Thiago Alcantara. This would have been the perfect time for the Spaniard to have finally led Barca's midfield, but instead, he is performing admirably in a Bayern Munich shirt.
Arroyo's comments confirmed what many already expected. Barcelona simply can't afford to miss out on business at the end of the season and may be forced into executing an 18-month plan in the space of a few weeks. As it stands, we are currently looking at two years between Barca's last signing (Neymar) and their next.
There's no doubt the club have a lot of work to do. The ban itself is something Barcelona can progress beyond, but damages left from a controversial season may take time to heal. Although Arroyo indicates signings are likely to arrive, the Camp Nou appeal is perhaps weaker than it once was.