Every summer it’s a question so burning that the rumor mill ought to install a smoke alarm: who will Barcelona sign?
This year the answer is quite easy: no one. Not a soul. El Zilcho. Because the club’s banned from signing players until next year for breaching FIFA regulations on transfers related to acquiring young players.
But it’s the constitutional right of the media to fill space talking about who Barça might sign anyway, according to the 28th amendment (“The Right to Speculate on Transfer Bullshit Shall Not Be Abridged By Facts”). Plus, it’s almost the summer, when European leagues finally finish playing all those boring matches and the press can write about what really matters: agent-driven stories aimed at hyping up clients and creating bidding wars in order to make rich people richer.
There are a few stories linking Barcelona with Juventus’ Paul Pogba, even though it would be incredibly unlikely for them to sign one of the best players on the continent in the January window, because transfers of such magnitude tend to happen in the summer. But with Paris Saint-Germain also fluttering their eyelids at Pogba, Barca can’t afford to wait. Even though they have to.
“For Barcelona it would be an important signing and very interesting,” Nou Camp sporting director Ariedo Braida told Tuttosport, acknowledging the problems created by the ban. Which, in a stance that unusually puts them in cahoots with fellow potential rulebreakers Real Madrid, Barcelona is hoping to get overturned on the basis that so many clubs have been abusing the rules that the “world of football” might “collapse.” (It won’t. Get over yourselves.)
At least they’re being upfront now. Consider:
- April 21, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu: “For the moment, there is no plan to sign him… For now, we’re only watching Pogba on TV.”
- May 1, Braida: “We like Pogba, we like him a lot… I am working on it and sowing the seeds.”
As Barcelona’s youth system has amply demonstrated, rules are made to be broken or bent. So we’ll see how many deferred deals Barça is able to strike in the coming months.