Barcelona have completed the signing of Club Deportivo Leganes striker Martin Braithwaite for £16million until June 30 2024. The Spanish champions announced the emergency signing of the Denmark international on Thursday after they paid his £15m buyout clause.
In a statement on their website, Barcelona confirmed that the 28-year-old has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal with the club and also inserted a £250m buy-out clause into his contract. Spanish clubs now have a usual trend of inserting ridiculous release clause in player’s contract following the sale of Neymar to PSG for £198m in 2017.
The Danish striker will be officially presented at Camp Nou later in the day where he will be presented to the press at 7.15pm local time. Braithwaite endured a difficult two-year spell at Middlesbrough from 2017-19, scoring only nine goals in 40 Championship appearances. The forward has scored six goals and provided one assist for struggling Leganes across 24 La Liga appearances this season.
Barcelona were given special permission by La Liga on Monday to sign an emergency striker after French forward Ousmane Dembele was ruled out for six months with a serious hamstring injury after undergoing surgery in Finland last week. Also, Luis Suarez is unlikely to return this season.
The medical committee confirmed Dembele’s injury as a long-term lay-off, which La Liga regulations stipulate as an issue that will keep a player out for at least five months.
Leganes chief has, however, condemned La Liga over the unfair stipulation that they would be unable to sign a replacement for Braithwaite.
The club’s chief, Martin Ortega said: “We consider that there is a regulation that is unfair, from which Barcelona has benefited. The one who is damaged by this is Leganes.
“We will raise our voice. We are in a situation of enormous and serious damage.
“We cannot understand the current regulation that a club, having a long-term injury, can perform this operation unilaterally and transfer their problem to our club”
Braithwaite, born on 5 June 1991 in the port city of Esbjerg, Denmark, will be eligible to make his debut for Barcelona on Saturday when they welcome Eibar to the Nou Camp. But the former Middlesbrough striker won’t play in the Champions League, having already submitted their squad for the knockout phase of the competition.
He started out in the academy at Sædding-Guldager Idrætsforening, after which he joined the biggest club in his city Esbjerg fB, and four years later switched the blue-and-white of EfB for the violet of Toulouse in France.
Braithwaite slowly made his mark at TFC, scoring 35 goals in Ligue 1 before changing club and country once again, this time joining Middlesbrough, who were in the English Championship at the time.
After scoring four goals in North Yorkshire, he was headed back to France on loan to Bordeaux, where his four goals helped Girondins into the Europa League. After returning to Middlesbrough, in the 2018/19 winter transfer window he was on the move again, this time to Leganés in Madrid, which is where he has truly made his breakthrough.
It was very much thanks to him that the ‘cucumber growers’ managed to stay in the first division. In his first half-season at the club, Real Madrid, Barça, Rayo Vallecano, Valencia and Sevilla were all on the receiving end of his goals, and he has added a further eight this term.
Braithwaite has also earned his spot on the Danish national team. He was at the Russia 2018 World Cup, where his side succumbed to Ivan Rakitic’s Croatia in the last sixteen on penalties.