Are Barcelona Bullies?
With the recent controversial signing of Leganés striker Martin Braithwaite, FC Barcelona are being branded as bullies.
With significant injuries to Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé, Barcelona was forced to make an emergency signing. The player that they decided to sign was Martin Braithwaite from Leganés.
Barcelona was allowed to sign Braithwaite because of La Liga rules that allow clubs to make emergency signings when a player is confirmed to be sidelined for more than five months. Because of this, people have been accusing Barcelona of using their superior status as a bigger club of stealing Braithwaite from Leganés who are desperately fighting against the threat of relegation.
Braithwaite’s release clause was €18 million, which Barcelona was very happy to pay. Leganés is helpless, they had to let go of the Danish striker. Unfortunately for Leganés, they are not allowed to sign anyone to replace Braithwaite. They can only sign someone after the season, which may just have cemented their relegation. Leganés is 19th on the league table just above last-placed team Espanyol.
Braithwaite made his debut for Barcelona in a 5-0 victory over Eibar. Lionel Messi broke out of his goalless drought by scoring a hat-trick in the first 40 minutes of the game.
Entering in the 72nd minute, Braithwaite’s first contribution to the match was a failed cross. He recovered when he managed to set up Messi for his fourth goal of the match and then he delivered another beautiful assist to Arthur Melo who finalized the 5-0 victory.
With Levante winning against Real Madrid 1-0, Barcelona is now at the top of the La Liga table.
Manager Quique Setien was delighted to see the club’s new signing playing really well. ‘Braithwaite did more than I expected. Honestly, I think we have made an extraordinary signing. He will adapt perfectly to what we do, he was involved in two goals today and he understands the game so well’.
For the Danish striker himself, he felt that this game was a dream come true. ‘I felt great to be out here playing, surrounded by fantastic players, and helping the team’, Braithwaite said post-match.
Barcelona’s superstar Messi was very happy with his new teammate. Braithwaite detailed what Messi said to him saying, ‘He congratulated me and it was the nicest touch in the world. You can see he looked for me several times. I feel really good and happy in these first days at the camp Nou. If you’d told me 15 days ago I’d sign for Barcelona I admit I wouldn’t have expected it’.
On the other hand, Leganés is having a horrible time in Braithwaite’s absence. Rivals Celta Vigo eked out 1-0 win despite being one man down for most of the match.
Leganés manager Javier Aguirre remains defiant in the face of adversity. ‘What do you want me to do? To cry? As long as the sun rises in the morning and we are allowed to play with 11 players and have our 26-man squad, then we have a chance’.
Leganés executive Martin Ortega also weighed in saying, ‘This rule is not fair and Barcelona have benefited from it while Leganés have been harmed by it’.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu surprisingly supports Leganés plight saying, ‘We have paid the clause following the regulations, although we believe it should be revised because it is not fair that Leganés cannot now sign anyone’.
Barcelona might have just taken advantage of a rule that even FIFA has asked the Spanish Football Association to remove in the past. So are Barcelona bullies? No, but the rule is definitely unfair.
Words: Cholo Martin