Barcelona were dealt a bitter blow on New Year's Eve when the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld FIFA's decision to ban the club from making any incoming transfers until January 2016.
Whilst there are one or two benefits to Barca, particularly forcing the promotion of youth, a cornerstone of the Barca project, the negatives easily outweigh the positives. Luis Enrique knows that what he has in-situ at this moment is all he has to work with for an entire year. And that doesn't include any players that wish to leave the club.
One such player is right-back Dani Alves.
The Brazilian has long contended that he would be looking for pastures new after becoming disillusioned with the current board of the club. Once a promise made to Eric Abidal was reneged upon, Alves made quite clear on social media that the longest he would be at the club would be until the end of his current contract.
Contract refusal telling
Despite continuous rumours of a new contract being offered by the club, the refusal to sign the same is telling.
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At this point Alves is now free to negotiate with other clubs and Barca know there isn't a thing that they can do about it. Essentially he will be dealing with clubs on his own terms, and his final playing contract is bound to be lucrative.
Given Barca's ineptitude to assign top-level backup players in all positions, the club will have a serious issue come summertime. Martin Montoya, a right back whom Barca evidently feel is not up to the task, is not giving the Catalans an option either. He too wants pastures new. Another for whom promises were made and then broken.
Douglas the main man?
Which leaves Luis Enrique with Douglas. A player so poor that, to this point, he has featured in a single, insipid goalless draw at Malaga.
If Andoni Zubizarreta was going to go panic-buying, he might at least have upped the ante on staffing levels. Even the local Sao Paulo fans couldn't believe their luck when local media first began reporting that Barca might be interested in taking the player.
ESPN's Francesc Tomas noted at the time that Douglas' acquisition was met with:
"A wave of negative comments from a number of Brazilian football experts who simply can't understand how Barcelona could be interested in a player who has never featured for his senior national team despite his 24 years of age.
"A wave of negative comments from a number of Brazilian football experts who simply can't understand how Barcelona could be interested in a player who has never featured for his senior national team despite his 24 years of age"
"If he is the fantastic player that Zubizarreta wants us all to believe he is, one would have expected him to be preferred to Alves (31 years old), Maicon (33) or Danilo (23) by now.
The latest rumours coming out of Camp Nou is that Marc Bartra will become the new right-back from next season onwards. Arguably this will leave the Catalans light in the centre of defence where Bartra has been the best performer of the last few months.
Incompetence at it's best.
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