According to Cadena SER, both Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid will be handed a two-window ban on transfers for violating FIFA's rules on the transfer of minors. If the ban is announced as expected, neither team will be able to sign players this summer or next winter. But it's not that simple, and the fallout from this news is likely to lead to a very, very wild summer.
Here's what you need to know.
Is this official yet?
No, it's not, but it would be surprising if this didn't happen. Cadena SER isn't simply speculating, they're reporting that Atléti and the Spanish FA have already been contacted by FIFA. Real Madrid even knew this was coming. They released a long, detailed statement in January outlining their position on this matter, and explaining why they felt they hadn't violated any transfer rules. Expect an announcement this week.
Does this seem legit?
Yes. If you go to Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid's websites, you can find players listed on their primary youth teams who were signed while under the age of 18 and who are not EU nationals. This doesn't count the large number of players in their younger teams whose names and bios aren't easily accessible online. Based on Real Madrid's statement, there were up to 51 players that FIFA was investigating as possibly being the subject of illegal transfers.
Is this the same thing that Barcelona got banned for?
The exact same thing. The only reason it took longer to ban the Madrid sides is that Barcelona were so much more blatant about it. They didn't really try to hide their transfers or make an argument that they were within the rules. They just argued that La Masia was a great place for kids to go, that their families were well taken care of and that no one was being exploited, so they shouldn't get in trouble. They were probably right about that, but they got in trouble anyway.
What are the chances this doesn't take effect this summer?
Very high! It would actually be a massive twist if either team was banned from signing players this summer. Almost undoubtedly, both teams will appeal their bans. Because of those pending appeals, they'll get to sign players this summer. They'll stock up on young talent, ditch some old guys and make sure they're ready to weather a storm. They'll lose their appeals and be banned from making transfers during the following two windows.
This should lead to the biggest net spends in either club's history, right?
Almost certainly. Real Madrid might go sign David De Gea and Paul Pogba, because why not? Atlético Madrid might go crazy and sign a half-dozen of the best prospects in the world, because why not? Who cares if they get a Financial Fair Play warning? They'll pass by tens of millions the next time around because they will have gone two windows without signing anyone.
Are these even true transfer bans?
Nope. They're really registration bans. Even while the Madrid clubs are prohibited from registering new players, they can sign up guys and loan them out. Don't be surprised if Barcelona do this with a few players over the summer.