Keys to a Successful 2016 January Transfer Window for Barcelona

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2016

Espanyol's defender Alvaro Gonzalez (L) heads the ball with Celta Vigo's forward Nolito during the Spanish league football match Celta Vigo vs Real CD Espanyol at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo on December 12, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP / MIGUEL RIOPA        (Photo credit should read MIGUEL RIOPA/AFP/Getty Images)

Half the hard work has already been done.

The Spanish transfer window opened on Monday, and Barcelona could finally register Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal, summer signings they were prevented from using because of the FIFA sanction that had been hanging over the club like a storm cloud.

Arda took the No. 7 shirt, Vidal the 22, and the rest of these two players' lives starts from now.

There is still further work to be done in the winter window, but incorporating these two players is the first task.

They could make their debuts as soon as Wednesday night, when Barcelona host Espanyol at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey last 16.

Turkey's midfielder Arda Turan (C) celebrates at the end of the Euro 2016 Group A qualifying football match between Turkey and Iceland on October 13, 2015 at the Konya Arena stadium in Konya. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/G
STR/Getty Images

It is unknown whether Luis Enrique will take the plunge and start both players against their local rivals, though given the draw they played out in La Liga on Saturday, it is expected the coach will put out a strong side.

That could see the trident of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez start up front, with Arda and Vidal coming on from the bench.

Both of the new signings are versatile in their own ways.

Arda, brought in from Atletico Madrid for €34 million, can not only play in either of the wide-forward positions but can also feature in the two midfield roles, usually occupied by Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic or Sergi Roberto.

He will give Barcelona's midfield oxygen and also provide a more rugged style of attacking than is currently offered.

The MSN don't like being rotated, so it will be rare to see Arda start in a forward slot, but it means Lucho can use him there if any of them are injured instead of the disappointing Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez.

Arda Turan of FC Barcelona during the Joan Gamper Trophy match between Barcelona and AS Roma on August 5, 2015 at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain.(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Barcelona's new Spanish defender Aleix Vidal poses with his new jersey prior to a press conference during his official presentation at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on June 8, 2015.   AFP PHOTO/ JOSEP LAGO        (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/A
JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

Vidal, meanwhile, will offer relief to Dani Alves at right-back, as well as extra support in the wide attacking roles.

Alves started the season well, but his form has dipped recently, probably through tiredness, and he was very poor against Espanyol.

Vidal will both give the Brazilian some resting time and force him to keep his game at as high a level as possible for the rest of the season.

Beyond these two new signings, Barcelona have several tasks at hand. One is stopping Marc-Andre ter Stegen from leaving.

According to the Mirror (h/t Sport), Barcelona would consider accepting a Liverpool offer for the German goalkeeper if it were high enough.

(L-R) goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen of FC Barcelona, Christoph Kramer of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Ivan Rakitic of FC Barcelona during the UEFA Champions League match between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC Barcelona on December 9, 2015 at the BayArena in Leverk
VI-Images/Getty Images

That would be a mistake. He could be a guaranteed starter between the sticks for the Blaugrana for years to come, even if Claudio Bravo is the better option in the short term.

However, selling players, with Sandro to Tottenham Hotspur a possible option on the table too, per Sport, is the only way Barcelona will get the money they need to make signings.

Club statutes say Barca's net debt is not allowed to be more than 2.5 times higher than their net income (with further adjustments for interest, taxes, etc.), and it is close to that at the moment, so they essentially must sell to buy.

And Enrique would really like to make a signing. One man in particular: Celta Vigo forward Nolito, according to Sport's Ivan San Antonio.

Lucho coached Nolito with the Barcelona youth teams and then again at Celta, and he would like to be reunited with the skillful wide man, though his €18 million release fee clause is a prohibitive figure. 

And signing him still wouldn't bypass the problem of not being able to drop, rest or even substitute any of the front three without them getting a bit upset.

One year ago on Jan. 4, Messi and Neymar were benched at Anoeta as Barcelona lost to Real Sociedad, sparking a week of crisis.

Since then, they have been virtually untouchable, with the coach reluctant to take them off for fear of repercussions.

When Neymar was substituted against Sevilla in October, he was visibly unhappy and it caused a stir in the Barcelona media and among the squad.

So perhaps signing Nolito would not remedy this, but if he is the man Luis Enrique wants, Barcelona should do the best they can to placate their treble-winning coach.