Barcelona have exercised their right to make an ‘emergency transfer’ by signing Danish international forward Martin Braithwaite from LaLiga rivals CD Leganes, a move which could generate repercussions at both the top and bottom of the LaLiga Santander table.
With transfers outside the summer and winter windows are only allowed in very specific circumstances, LaLiga authorities gave permission to Barça after it was confirmed that their French attacker Ousmane Dembele would miss the rest of the season following surgery with a torn hamstring.
The regulations limited Barça to signing a forward player from another LaLiga club, with other options considered including Getafe’s Angel Rodriguez, Real Betis’ Loren Moron and Real Sociedad’s Willian Jose.
In the end, the Camp Nou outfit decided on Braithwaite’s mix of physical and technical gifts and triggered the €18 million release clause contained within the 28-year-old’s contract with Leganes, giving him a four and a half year contract.
The powerful and pacey player, who can finish with either foot, can play either wide or up front on his own and will give blaugrana coach Quique Setien interesting new options up front.
Braithwaite joined suburban Madrid based club Leganes in January 2019 from English side Middlesbrough, initially on loan, before making a permanent move last summer.
His first LaLiga start for Los Pepineros was, funnily enough, at the Camp Nou, when he scored although Barça won the game 3-1.
The one-time Esbjerg and Toulouse player made 43 LaLiga appearances during his 14 months in the capital, scoring 10 goals and providing eight assists.
Strikes this season in matches against fellow battlers RCD Mallorca, RCD Espanyol and Real Valladolid had been vital in keeping Lega in with a chance of avoiding relegation down to LaLiga SmartBank, Spain’s second tier.
First capped by Denmark in 2013, Braithwaite has seven goals in 39 international appearances, including four games at World Cup 2018. He is also expected to represent his country at this summer’s Euro 2020 finals. He will become the fourth Danish player to represent Barcelona in their history.
His most famous compatriot to wear the blaugrana jersey was the great Michael Laudrup, who played 167 LaLiga games for the club before a controversial move to great rivals Real Madrid in 1994.
Allan Simonsen represented the Catalans in the late 1970s and early 1980s with great success, scoring 31 goals in 98 appearances, while Copenhagen native Ronnie Ekelund made a single appearance in 1993-94 season under Johan Cruyff.
Leganes also lost another attacker during the winter window, when Sevilla triggered the release clause of Moroccan forward Youssef En-Nesyri.
Spanish forward Miguel Angel Guerrero and Ivory Coast international Roger Assale arrived at Butarque and will now get further chances to contribute as Javier Aguirre’s team continue their battle against the drop, including in Saturday lunchtime’s crunch six-pointer at RC Celta.
Braithwaite is likely to make his Barcelona debut in Saturday afternoon’s LaLiga Santander meeting with Eibar and could then feature in the following weekend’s El Clasico at title rivals Real Madrid.
Barça are currently just one point behind leaders Real Madrid at the top of the table, and blaugrana fans around the world will hope that their new emergency signing can make both a short and long-term impact at the Camp Nou.
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