MIAMI, Fla. (February 24, 2020) —
What happens when you’re a top team in the world’s best football league and you find yourself a little short on forwards due to injuries?
Why you just ask the league for another player. Problem solved.
Thanks to a “special” rule allowing clubs to bring in replacements for injury cover, FC Barcelona were given permission on Monday, February 17 to bring in a player to replace Ousmane Dembélé. FC Barcelona found the perfect signing in Martin Braithwaite, the Denmark striker (who has dual citizenship with Guyana) who joined CD Leganés in the summer of 2019.
Under the current LaLiga rule, Spanish clubs can ask permission to sign an injury replacement outside the transfer window. Any target has to be a free agent or already registered in Spain. Because buyout clauses are mandatory in La Liga, there’s no need to negotiate with clubs if the team is willing to pay the full amount of such a clause.
The Blaugrana paid Leganés his €18 million buyout clause – and they’ve slapped a €300 million buyout clause on their new striker who’s signed through 2024.
Braithwaite will be sorely missed at Leganés. Although he has found the back of the net just six times in LaLiga this season, those six goals have been tremendously important to Leganés. Mired in a relegation battle with just 19 points in 24 games going into this past weekend, four of Braithwaite’s goals have positively impacted the final scoreline of games: two were match-winning strikes, and two more directly resulted in Leganés salvaging draws. Furthermore, his one assist in league play resulted in a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad – the only win that Leganés have to their name so far in 2020.
But What About Leganés?
Yes, he will be missed by Los Pepineros (The Cucumber Growers). All of this raises the question: Beyond receiving the €18 million buyout fee, what compensation will be given to Leganés, who are now certain to be relegated to LaLiga Smartbank for next season?
Leganes director general Martin Ortega has labelled Barcelona’s transfer of Martin Braithwaite “unfair” and said it’s “hugely damaging” for the relegation-threatened club. Leganes had no choice in the matter and can not sign a replacement of their own, something Ortega thought isn’t right:
Ortega said the rule is grossly unfair and worked to the detriment of Leganés. He said the club would employ all means possible to contest the rule, but did not blame Barcelona since they acted in conformity to what the rules allowed them to do.
The departure of Braithwaite means Leganés have lost their two best attacking weapons in a little over a month, with Youssef En-Nesyri joining Sevilla in January. The chances of Los Pepineros surviving the relegation battle seem slim at best as a result. After they learned of Barça’s intentions, Leganés asked LaLiga for permission to sign a replacement player of their own. They were told that any such action would require an amendment of the existing rule, which would need to be approved by the RFEF, the General Assembly and then the Directors Commission, and that it would be impossible to change the rule in midseason.
According to Ramon Fuentes of Sport, La Liga are already looking at amending the rule to exclude buyout clauses in the future.
The rule, as it stands, creates a major issue for La Liga’s smaller clubs, as players and their agents will resist accepting a contract where a team would slap a big buyout clause on a player whose goal is to move to a bigger club in the future.
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