Premier League

Barcelona Gavi registration worries are the tip of their problems iceberg

Barcelona midfielder Gavi against Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona just keep winning in La Liga, but their issues in registering Gavi are symbolic of systemic problems which only seem to be getting worse and worse.


The most superficial view of Barcelona, a passing glance at a league table, would suggest that normal service has been resumed at one of European football’s giants following last summer’s drama.

On Sunday evening they reopened a nine-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 1-0 win at Athletic Bilbao, thanks to a goal in first-half stoppage-time from Raphinha. They’ve won 21 of their 25 league games this season, and the Spanish league title seems destined to head back to Camp Nou for the first time in four years.

But it doesn’t take a much deeper dive to see that problems have continued to mount, and the latest to land on their doorstep is a potential issue with registering their 18-year-old wunderkind Gavi. The issue is relating to an ongoing legal wrangle between the club and La Liga which goes back to January, when La Liga blocked the registration of the midfielder as a first-team squad member over the club’s financial position.

Gavi had signed a new contract with Barcelona in September. It has been reported that the club had been under the impression that they had managed to balance their books through the departures of Memphis Depay and Gerard Pique in order to enable his full registration but La Liga disagreed and as part of their sanctions over salary caps, on January 24 they confirmed that under their rules he could not be fully registered for the remainder of this season.

Barcelona headed straight to court and on January 31, the closure date for the January transfer window, it was confirmed that a judge had overruled the league, stating that, “The decision recognises…there is a principle of legitimacy in FC Barcelona’s claim and that the failure to register the player before the end of the transfer window would imply the players free agency and therefore cause serious, irreparable damage to FC Barcelona.”

But it took just two weeks for this judgement to be overturned, although the reasons are banal rather than a savage indictment of anybody or anything. It turns out that Barcelona filed their paperwork for the claim a day late – including a day’s grace period allowed by the court system – and that this was sufficient to invalidate the claim. The club has already responded that it did file this paperwork on time, so where this all ends up is…

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