Barcelona manager Luis Enrique is expected to demand his club make a new signing during the January transfer window to finally fill the gap left by the summer departure of Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea, according to Mundo Deportivo. The Catalan giants were studying the possibility of bolstering the position since Pedro left and have now made it a priority after versatile Rafinha Alcantara suffered a long-term injury during the Champions League draw against Roma on Wednesday night.
The Champions League winners refused to replace Pedro during the summer transfer window because any signing would have been unable to feature until January 2016 due to their Fifa transfer ban – as is the case for both Arda Turan and Aleix Vidal. The club opted then to postpone the decision until the January transfer window to see how Luis Enrique will cope with the player's absence during the first part of the campaign.
Sandro Ramirez and Munir El Haddadi were expected to back up the trio formed by Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez but Rafinha was eventually chosen to replace the Brazilian star during his illness earlier in the season – while also backing up Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic's in the middle of the park due to his ability to play in different positions.
So after the club confirmed that Rafinha will miss the rest of the campaign due to rupturing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee Mundo Deportivo claims the signing of a new versatile forward has become a priority – even though Turan and Vidal will also join the club to add competition to the squad.
The Spanish publication reports that Barcelona are already monitoring a number of attackers with Celta Vigo star Nolito topping a list of candidates which also includes Arsenal star Theo Walcott, Manchester City's Jesus Navas and Leicester City sensation Riyad Mahrez.
Meanwhile, former club director and presidential candidate Toni Freixa has suggested that Barcelona can register a player to replace Rafinha immediately despite the Fifa ban – as La Liga allows clubs to sign a free-agent or a players from the same competition when there is a long-term injury. Freixa claimed that the club would be able to remove Rafinha's registration and request permission to sign a replacement as Fifa have no authority to block that.
"Barcelona can register a replacement for Rafinha. Article 124.3 of the RFEF (Spanish Football Federation) is clear and here Fifa have no authority", he wrote on his Twitter.