BARCELONA: Barcelona signed Martin Braithwaite from Spanish league rivals Legans on Thursday after being granted special dispensation to bolster their injury-depleted attack.

Barcelona agreed to pay the 18 million euros ($19.4 million) buyout clause in Braithwaites contract.

“I was surprised at first,” Braithwaite said after being officially introduced by the club. “To play for Barcelona is one of the greatest things that can happen in a player’s career. For years I’ve wanted to reach this level.”

Almost three weeks after the January transfer window closed, the Spanish league gave Barcelona permission to make an emergency signing after they were left without Luis Surez and Ousmane Dembele for long periods due to injuries to both attacking players.

However, it left Legans, a small club from Madrid, without their most talented attacking player as they struggle to rise out of the relegation zone. It already lost striker Youssef En-Nesyri to Sevilla last month.

Legans said they also asked for permission to sign a player to replace Braithwaite, but had the request denied.

“We find ourselves in a situation of enormous and harmful disadvantage,” club director general Martn Ortega said. “We cannot understand the current regulation in which a club, having a player injured for a long period of time, can carry out a unilateral operation and pass the problem off on another club.

“We understand that this rule could be applied in the case where both clubs are in agreement, but this rule as it stands goes against the equality of clubs.”

While most European countries forbid any signing between transfer windows, the Spanish league can grant clubs exemptions in certain cases.

Braithwaite, who has also played for Bordeaux and Toulouse, will not be eligible in the Champions League this season, just La Liga.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020