Did the current transfer window just get a whole lot more important for Real Madrid? That's the thought in the heads of plenty of Madrid fans after hearing the news that the club has been banned from registering players for the next two transfer windows.
Los Blancos, as well as neighbours Atletico Madrid, "were found to have violated several provisions concerning the international transfer and first registration of minor players as well as other relevant provisions with regard to the registration and participation of certain players in competitions" according to a statement by FIFA today.
The result is that this summer's transfer window and the winter transfer window of the 2016-17 season will be ‘no-go' areas for Madrid. The club's next chance of registering players, after this current window, will be in the summer of 2017. A long time to wait for any club, let alone a club that likes to spend big and lead the way in the transfer market.
Today's news, news that has been months in waiting, will have hit hard high up at the Santiago Bernabeu. President Florentino Perez likes to spend big and with Zinedine Zidane taking charge following the dismissal of Rafa Benitez, the likelihood was that the construction magnate was going to splash the cash this summer and back the club legend in restoring former glories.
Now Perez and company have a headache. As things stand, Madrid have from now until the end of January to build a squad that will compete not only until the end of this season but until the end of the 2016/17 season. If an appeal is successfully given the green light, Los Blancos will at least have the chance to bolster their squad in the summer even if that appeal is ultimately successful or not.
While alarm bells will be ringing in the Spanish capital, those alarm bells may die down somewhat given that this, of course, is not the first time one of the world's biggest clubs has been given a slap on the wrist by the sport's governing body.
A precedent was set by Barcelona not long ago for the same offence and although the transfer ban stuck, an appeal meant the ban was temporarily suspended and the Catalans were able to sign Luis Suarez. The season that followed resulted in a treble for Luis Enrique's men.
Now the same timeline is set to greet Madrid. Not only does the club seem confident in nullifying the claims by FIFA, especially with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) on their side with regards to some of the claims by FIFA, but even if they don't (and that seems to be difficult given Barcelona were hit with, and served, their transfer ban) the appeal should at least allow Madrid to stock up on players this summer before the ban hits home.
That is why Perez should not hand Zidane a blank cheque over the next two weeks. Targets may already been pencilled, and indeed penned, in but it will be extremely difficult for Madrid to buy exactly who they want this winter and not resort to panic buying to ensure they have a competitive squad for the next 18 months.
Madrid have never been a club to buy big in January. Last summer's additions were Martin Odegaard, who plays for Castilla, and Lucas Silva, another player for the future who is currently plying his trade in France with Marseille.
Big clubs do not want to lose big players in the middle of the season, counting out names such as Paul Pogba, Eden Hazard and Robert Lewandowski, names who have all been linked with the Spanish capital recently. Even Madrid's megabucks would struggle to sign those type of names midway through a campaign.
Instead, Los Blancos should stick with any plans that were in place for the current transfer window and focus their efforts on the summer. While the returns of loan players Lucas Silva, Fabio Coentrao, Marcos Asensio and Jesús Vallejo may not exactly leave Madrid fans licking their lips, they are options to add depth to the squad and if those players are complemented by big-name incomings, then all is not lost.
In a season where the Spanish giants have got little right on or off the pitch, they need to get their next transfer splurge spot on. With presidential elections approaching for Perez and the club president a big fan of spending big after big summer tournaments such as Euro 2016, this summer could be an exciting one for Zidane and the fans.
Barcelona refused to panic in the face of a similar crisis and Madrid should adhere to a similar mindset rather than sweep up the transfer market in the coming days and weeks. The options in the summer cast a shadow over the mid-season transfer offerings and if an appeal is successful, that is the time to strike.