Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid won't be significantly slowed down by their transfer bans, says Michael Lintorn...
"Indeed, a lot of players being mentioned as Real Madrid transfer targets in the past fortnight are out-of-form glamour names trading off their reputations such as Eden Hazard or guys who won’t be an upgrade on present starters like Harry Kane, so not being allowed to spend should stop them wasting money."
One of the biggest off-field stories of 2016 so far was the revelation that Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will be banned from registering players in the summer 2016 and winter 2017 windows as a punishment for breaching rules over the transfer of youngsters.
However, while the media attempt to dress this up a serious obstacle to both capital clubs' chances of success over the next campaign and a half, it is difficult to be too concerned having witnessed how Barcelona fared upon committing the same crime and receiving the same penalty.
The Catalan giants' inability to add to their squad throughout 2015 didn't prevent them from claiming almost every trophy available to them, starting with the esteemed treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League, and following up with the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.
Real Madrid are in a similar position to the one that Barcelona were in then in that their roster is already stacked and balanced, which is why they only made minor adjustments in pre-season, and the confirmation of this is their billing as 6.611/2 third favourites. The next best team are perceived to be Manchester City and they are miles behind at 15.5.
Indeed, a lot of players being mentioned as transfer targets in the past fortnight are out-of-form glamour names trading off their reputations such as Eden Hazard or guys who won't be an upgrade on present starters like Harry Kane, so not being allowed to spend should stop them wasting money.
It is also likely to cause a rethink on the dubious idea of cashing in on key current performers Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, meaning it has the potential to prove more blessing than curse.
Atletico Madrid's existing playing staff may not be as highly regarded as the Clasico double act, with Diego Simeone's side 16.015/1 to be crowned champions of Europe, but what matters most is that they are competing with them on the pitch, leading La Liga after a run of nine wins from ten in which they have conceded just twice.
It puts them in contention for a second title in three years. They followed the first by losing Thibaut Courtois, Filipe Luis, David Villa and Diego Costa and being forced to rebuild, whereas this time being barred from refreshing the squad might strengthen their resolve to retain Antoine Griezmann, Koke, Diego Godin and friends.
In short, if you expect recent developments to derail Spain's domination in Europe a year on from La Liga clubs collecting both the Champions League and Europa League, you will be disappointed. They still have three heavyweights standing in the former, and are 10/11 to supply the winners again.