Barcelona have been given permission by La Liga to sign an emergency forward to replace the injured Ousmane Dembele.
Dembele has been ruled out of action for six months with a hamstring tear after undergoing surgery in Finland last week, and the seriousness of the injury has seen La Liga give the Catalan giants the green light to sign a replacement.
The club now have 15 days to sign a player who is either currently plying his trade in Spain’s top division or is a free agent – despite the European transfer window being closed.
Their new signing will only be able to play La Liga fixtures, and will therefore not be available for selection in the Champions League, which recommences for Barcelona when they face Napoli in the last 16 a week on Tuesday.
Mundo Deportivo claim that Barcelona sent the relevant documentation to La Liga’s medical committee last Thursday asking for permission to sign a replacement.
The green light was then given on Monday morning after the committee confirmed the injury as a long-term lay-off, which La Liga regulations stipulate as an issue that will keep a player out for at least five months.
Barcelona are desperate to add an attacker to their squad, with Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati the only forwards currently available to Quique Setien following the January exits of Carles Perez and Abel Ruiz.
The latest name to be thrown into the hat by Mundo Deportivo is former Middlesbrough flop Martin Braithwaite, who has scored eight goals for Leganes this season.
The Denmark international netted just nine times in 40 appearances during his two-year stint at the Riverside Stadium having joined the club from Ligue 1 side Toulouse.
But the 28-year-old is now a shock target for Quique Setien’s side having given a good account of himself ever since arriving on an initial loan at Leganes in last year’s January transfer window.
The Madrid side then agreed a four-year deal with the player to make the move permanent last summer after he scored five goals and recorded as many assists in 19 appearances during the second half of last season.
Getafe’s Angel Rodriguez, Tottenham’s January target Willian Jose, former Arsenal and West Ham striker Lucas Perez and Real Betis star Loren Moreno have also been heavily linked with filling the void temporarily left by Dembele at the Nou Camp.
Barcelona’s players showed their support for their stricken Frenchman – who joins Luis Suarez on the sidelines as a long-term absentee – by wearing his No 11 shirt ahead of their 2-1 win against Getafe on Saturday.