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 Posted by Dermot Ledwith
Sep 1, 2014

Barca look ready to cope with upcoming transfer ban

ESPN FC's Sid Lowe breaks down Barcelona's summer and predicts which newcomers will have the biggest impact for the Catalan club.

Camp Nou was an oasis of calm on transfer deadline day, and that may come as a surprise at a club that has a FIFA transfer ban hanging over it that could mean no more incomings until 2016.

Barcelona still have to take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but whatever they think of their chances of securing an improvement to the ban, it does not seem to have affected them in their late dealings in the transfer window.

And that can only be a positive sign at a club that feels it has enough young talent in reserve to survive all of 2015 without bringing in new faces, it gives the impression of a club that is happy with the business done throughout the summer and with plenty in reserve.

What will undoubtedly have also helped the situation ahead of the transfer window closing is a positive start to the season. Barca amazingly remain as the only Spanish club with a 100 percent record after two games with the emergence of new young talent as match winners in those two games.

The arrival of Luis Suarez should make Barcelona even more dangerous this season.

In the first two weekends of La Liga season a teenager has scored the all important goal that has ensured victory for the club and those performances have added both Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez to the pool of talent already ready to step up to the plate and perform in the Barca first team when called on for the next 16 months.

Munir turned 19 on Monday, while Sandro -- although he looks much older -- reached that age less than two months ago. Both will take great comfort from Luis Enrique's policy to put his trust in them and blood youth in his opening games as Barca coach, and those bold decisions should be applauded by Barca fans everywhere.

Elsewhere 21-year-old Rafinha Alcantara has started the first two games and impressed after a year on loan at Celta Vigo. While Gerard Deulofeu will get more playing time at Sevilla this season -- he played his first 20 minutes of the season in Sunday's win over Espanyol -- giving more time for the 20-year-old to mature and learn his craft, should see him return stronger next term.

With Barca being the only club still to concede a goal, they can be fairly happy with the adjustments made to a defence that was considered the weak link last season.

- Enrique hails Barcelona spirit after win at Villarreal
- Ledwith: Sandro secures hard-fought Barcelona win
- Tomas: Douglas a surprise Barca addition

Claudio Bravo has started the season under the posts but with competition to come from 22-year-old Marc-André ter Stegen -- when he is declared fit -- Barca can be fairly sure they are covered in that area for the time being.

It was the signing of two central defenders that most Barca fans were happiest to see over the summer. Jérémy Mathieu will become 31 next month but he has already shown he has more than enough pace and strength -- alongside Gerard Pique -- to give the club at least two years of fine service if he is lucky with injuries.

In the shadows Thomas Vermaelen will be waiting for his chance when he is fully fit along with Marc Bartra. Well thought of by many observers Bartra is still only 23 and still has time to blossom into a top defender. Whether or not that will happen at Barca will depend on his performances over the coming 12 to 18 months, but he is still definitely part of Enrique's plans for the foreseeable future.

With Dani Alves on the right and Jordi Alba on the left and back up from Martin Montoya, Douglas and Adriano, plus the ability of the two new centre halves to fill in if needed, there should also be enough cover in the full back positions.

Barcelona's defence will likely be stronger with the addition of German goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.

Javier Mascherano recently signed a contract until 2018 that will keep him at the club until past his 34th birthday. Expect to see a lot of classy midfield play and defensive duties from the Argentine, with maybe a lesser role to play if Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Roberto fulfill their potential.

These players will form the backbone of the new Barca, for the next 16 months at least, along with household names like Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Pedro Rodriguez and Xavi Hernandez who all have the chance to turn into one-club players and club legends like Carles Puyol who bowed out in the summer at the age of 36.

Xavi's cameo performance at Villarreal on Sunday proved he has much to give still if he is happy to play a bit part from now on. He will be key throughout the season if he remains happy with less game time and it would be no surprise to see him go down the same path as Puyol and remain a Barca player throughout the FIFA ban and into 2016 when he will turn 36.

Add Neymar and Luis Suarez to that roster -- both expected to hit their form at a later stage this season for very different reasons - and Barca have a guarantee of goals that should take them over the line and back into the transfer market.

That's 25 players mentioned - with more youngsters waiting to emerge -- of course nobody can predict the future, but it looks like Barca have done more planning in the transfer market this summer than in previous years, and they should be able to cope with whatever FIFA finally throws at them with that group of players.

Dermot Ledwith

Dermot lives and works in Spain where he watches a lot of football and does freelance work for a number of magazines and news agencies, inlcuding AFP, the Press Association, Vavel.com and Soccerex. Follow him on twitter @dermotled

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