Barcelona have been hit with a transfer ban at a crucial time in which they had plans to replace some key players in their squad.
Barcelona don't often have busy transfer windows where they buy multiple players, mainly because they don't need to do so. However this summer would have been different. Victor Valdes and Carles Puyol had both announced their intentions to leave the club this summer.
Their departures would be a huge blow to the reigning Spanish champions regardless of the transfer ban which has just been imposed on them. However now they aren't permitted to replace such key players, it could leave the club in a worrying position.
Barcelona have received the 14-month transfer ban (which covers two transfer windows) for breaking rules with regards to signing international players under the age of 18. The signings must meet one of three criteria; Under-18s can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.
You can expect European rivals Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid to significantly strengthen their squads in this 14-month period and Barça could start to fall behind their rivals. Even with the signing of Neymar this season, they have a huge battle on their hands in La Liga with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid set to push them to the last day of the campaign. They also face a tough task to progress in the Champions League following a 1-1 draw at home to Atletico in the quarter-final.
Puyol and Valdes have been key components of the Barça side that has been so dominant over the last decade. They are almost impossible to replace as they have become part of the furniture at the club and have been brought through the youth system and prepared to establish themselves at the club. Whilst Marc Bartra could possibly come in and replace Puyol the situation with Valdes is much more difficult. As things stand José Manuel Pinto is deputising for the injured Victor Valdes and it was thought they would aim to bring in Borussia Monchengladbach keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the summer.
Valdes had said he would leave at the end of last season, but chose to stick around for one more year; could he be convinced to stay again? Barcelona may well need to pull out all the stops to extend his 19 year association with the club.
However even if they do, his recent injury keeps him out until around October, is Pinto good enough to deputise for that long?
Puyol announced last month he would be leaving the Catalan club, but hadn't made a decision on what his next step would be. His contract still had two years left to run on it but both parties had mutually agreed to rescind it.
David Luiz has been linked with a move to the club on countless occasions so at least Chelsea can breathe a sigh of relief with this news. Barcelona are already relatively short on centre-backs anyway, and Puyol has had many injury problems over the years with some expecting him to eventually announce his retirement this summer.
The club could be in for a struggle next season with their aging squad, but right now they should be focusing on trying to convince two of those senior players to hang around for just one more year.