Barcelona has completed the controversial signing of Martin Braithwaite from fellow La Liga side Leganes, in a £15 million deal.
The Danish international has inked a four-year deal at Camp Nou after the Catalan giants were handed special dispensation to sign him outside of the transfer window.
Los Cules have paid his release clause to take the 28-year-old to Catalunya after Ousmane Dembele suffered an injury that has ruled him out until the end of the season.
A club statement said: “FC Barcelona has paid the buy out clause of the player Martin Braithwaite and therefore he is no longer contractually tied to Club Deportivo Leganés.
“The cost of the clause is €18 million. The player will sign a contract with the Club for the rest of the season and four more until 30 June 2024 with the buy out clause set at €300 million.”
According to La Liga rules, because the French international’s expected injury absence is expected to be for at least five months, Barca could sign a replacement from a fellow Spanish side.
That’s despite the dual issues that it is both outside the transfer window and that the club from whom they would sign a replacement would not be able to land a replacement of their own.
After toying with the idea of Real Sociedad’s Willian Jose, but being put off by his €70 million release clause, and having turned Cedric Bakambu around in Hong Kong when he was en route to sign from China while the transfer window was still open, it must be added they moved for Braithwaite, who has scored six times in 24 games this term.
Leganes director Martin Ortega has declared that the side from the outskirts of Madrid have no issue with Barcelona moving for their player, but are unhappy with La Liga’s rules.
“Barca have acted incorrect manner,” Ortega declared. “They contacted us Monday, and the only option was to pay clause.
“We cannot hold it against them as they used the rules which currently exist. But we don’t think rules are fair.
“The player (Braithwaite) has been a gentleman and a professional. He trained fully yesterday, knowing he could get injured.
“We thank him for the immense performances he gave us.”
In many ways, Barcelona has been afforded a second opportunity due to mismanagement at the top of the club.
Both Abel Ruiz and Carles Perez, young prospects who have previously starred for the club’s youth sides, were allowed to depart on loan in January to raise funds.
When Dembele got injured, adding to the blow of Luis Suarez, suddenly Quique Setien’s attack looked unfit for the purpose of a title battle with Real Madrid and another Champions League push, placing even more strain on Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and 17-year-old Ansu Fati.
Now they have paid over the odds for Braithwaite, who badly flopped in English football during an ill-fated stint with Middlesbrough and won’t be eligible for the Champions League, in a move he could hardly turn down.