Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says the 12-month transfer ban handed to his club by FIFA will not affect his short-term plans for the side.
FIFA said on Thursday that the Madrid clubs are blocked from registering new players in the next two transfer windows -- winter and summer in 2017. As when Barcelona were hit with a similar punishment two years back, Atletico can make deals to sign players but cannot register them to play until their punishment ends in 2018.
Atletico are set to appeal the ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which could potentially mean the punishment is put back long enough for the Estadio Vicente Calderon outfit to reinforce their squad next January.
At a news conference ahead of Saturday's La Liga game at Celta Vigo the Colchoneros coach was asked if the confirmation of the ban had changed his thinking on the strength of his squad, and replied that only games played over the course of the season would show whether his current players were good enough.
"I will stick to what the club have said and nothing is different than expected," he said. "I'm focused on the sporting side, and on Celta. The club has already been working on options for a possible punishment.
"It is difficult to give a strong opinion on the squad at this point, we will have to see how we end the season. Last year was fantastic. I hope this season goes as well."
A more pressing concern for Simeone is Atletico's poor start to the 2016-17 La Liga campaign, with his team having taken just two points from their first two games, ahead of the trip to Celta on Saturday lunchtime.
"We have our needs in every game, no matter when it comes," Simeone said. "The pressure is real, but it is the same for both sides. We are both looking for our first victory. We will set out to play our game based on what we believe is best for this opponent. We will look for the best collective performance."
Uruguay internationals Diego Godin and Jose Maria Gimenez did not return from international duty in time to take part in training on Friday morning, and Simeone is expected to choose his XI with Tuesday's difficult Champions League Group D opener away to PSV Eindhoven also in mind.
Atletico have only scored twice in their first two La Liga games, leading to some frustration among Colchoneros fans and pundits.
Simeone suggested he might make some changes to his XI this weekend, with veteran Fernando Torres among the options to come in and replace €30 million summer signing Kevin Gameiro.
"The demands are fair and people will criticise us when the results are not as hoped," the Argentine coach said. "We must improve and look for alternatives to start winning games. It will be difficult, against an opponent who have also had their problems, but it is an intense side with different options."
Eduardo Berizzo's Celta knocked Atletico out of last season's Copa del Rey, but lost key attacker Nolito to Manchester City this summer, and will be without injured attacker Fabian Orellana on Saturday.
"Berizzo has managed to reinvent the team continuously, which shows what a good coach he is," Simeone said. "He covered the exit of Augusto Fernandez [to Atletico last January] well, and will do the same with Nolito. They do not depend on just one player, although individual talent does make teams better."
The 12 p.m. local time kick-off on Saturday in Galicia was not his decision, Simeone said, but he and his players had to make the best of it.
"There are people whose job it is to decide the kick-off times, and ours is to make our team better," he said. "It will be no different at 12. We have played in the morning before, and we will look to prepare in the best possible way."