Former Barcelona director and presidential candidate Toni Freixa has claimed the club could register a new player to replace the injured Rafinha as the transfer ban imposed on them by FIFA has expired -- paving the way for an early debut for Arda Turan or Aleix Vidal.
Barca signed Turan and Vidal in the summer, despite the sanction handed down by FIFA after the club was found guilty of breaching the governing body's rules on the transfer of players aged under 18.
There was some confusion as to whether Barca were allowed to bring in the duo, although it later transpired that the players were simply not allowed to be registered until the January 2016 transfer window begins, when FIFA's ban is widely reported to be coming to an end.
However, Freixa has hinted that one of the pair could be registered to play immediately as a replacement for Rafinha -- who is reported to be out for at least six months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury -- due to the sanction having expired as the summer transfer window closed on Aug. 31.
"Barca can register a replacement for Rafinha. Article 124.3 of the RFEF (Royal Spanish Football Federation) is clear and here FIFA have no authority," he wrote on Twitter.
El Barça pot inscriure un substitut de Rafinha. L'article 124.3 del Reglament RFEF és claríssim i aqui la FIFA no hi té cap competència (1)
- Toni Freixa (@tonifreixa) September 17, 2015
"Two transfer windows -- last winter's window and this summer's transfer period," AS quotes Freixa as saying regarding the length of FIFA's ban, before reporting him as claiming that Turan or Vidal could be registered.
However, while Freixa believes Barca have grounds for making such a move, AS says he feels the club "are afraid to confront FIFA as they know there are still unresolved cases involving the signing of under-age players outstanding."
Barca would have to unregister Rafinha, and request permission from the RFEF to sign another player to replace him outside of the normal transfer window, according to AS.