Barcelona’s 14-month transfer embargo for the international trade of minors will have a major knock-on affect on world football.
Aside from influencing the transfer policy of the club itself, having such a superpower in the game banned from buying or selling players for two windows will likely have an impact on all elite clubs, either directly or indirectly. With this in mind, we consider who the embargo is going to affect more: Chelsea or Arsenal?
David Luiz was known to be high on Barcelona’s priority list this summer. The Brazilian was odds-on with most bookmakers to move to Camp Nou before the ban was announced. It was believed that Chelsea would have accepted a bid of £25m for the defender, with Mourinho seemingly to have deemed the player too unreliable.
The news of FIFA’s ban is unlikely to be well received at Stamford Bridge. The club have been making a serious effort to conform with Financial Fair Play, and will have been counting on the transfer fee that they were going to receive for Luiz when considering their transfer policy for the next window.
It’s well known that Chelsea’s priority is to sign a top-class centre-forward. And such a player is not going to come cheap. With Luiz now likely to remain at Stamford Bridge, the club are going to have to find another way of balancing the books.
However, David Luiz was not the only Chelsea player who Barcelona were interested in. With Victor Valdes having taken the decision to leave the Catalan club at the end of the season, Barcelona were also in the market for a goalkeeper. And Thibaut Courtois was attracting attention.
The Belgian’s form has been impressive during his two-year loan spell at Atletico Madrid, so much so that it earned him the LFP goalkeeper of year award for last season. Courtois’ detachment from Chelsea, and obvious enjoyment of life in Spain, means that it would have been very difficult for Chelsea to hold onto the player if Barcelona had acted on their interest.
The ban means that Chelsea should be able to hold onto Courtois but are faced with the problem of who to choose as the No.1 for next season. However, this has to be considered a ‘good problem’ given the alternative was losing the man who many see as the next best goalkeeper in the world.
The announcement of Barcelona’s transfer troubles is unlikely to be greeted with too much glee at the Emirates either.
Alex Song had been rumoured to be considering a move back to his former club after failing to establish a place in the first-teams of either Pep Guardiola or Tata Martino. And given Arsenal’s recent penchant for capitulation, his brawn would have been quickly welcomed back in the centre of the park.
Arsenal have also held a long-standing interest in Alexis Sanchez. Like Song, the Chilean has never been able to hold down a regular place at the Camp Nou, and with the recent improvement in Arsenal’s financial situation, this may have been the window to turn their interest into something more concrete.
However, the embargo is not without some potential benefits for the North London club either. Arsenal and Barcelona share an interest in the Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. If the Catalan club’s troubles mean that Arsenal can secure the German international, then they could still potentially be a major beneficiary of the situation.
While it remains impossible to quantify the effect that Barcelona’s ban will have at this stage, it looks likely to have more of a positive impact on Chelsea than Arsenal. Even if the West End club would have preferred to cash-in on Luiz, being forced to retain a player of his talent is far from the worst possible outcome.
For Arsenal, the ban is more likely to have a negative consequences on the whole. Given that the Arsenal squad again appears to be in need of serious investment, the ruling out of two of their top transfer targets can be damaging for those at the Emirates.