On June 6 last year, Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in the Champions League final in Berlin to complete an historic treble, their second in six years, becoming the first club to accomplish such a feat more than once in the history of European club football. But the Catalan giants didn't rest on their laurels.
Instead, with elections rapidly approaching, President Josep Maria Bartomeu, before stepping down from his position as part of the rules during the elective process, put the doubts to bed and extended the contracts of Luis Enrique and Daniel Alves whilst also announcing the signing of Aleix Vidal from Sevilla within 48 hours of the European Cup triumph for an initial fee of €18m and €4m in variables.
A few weeks later and with a managing committee taking care of club matters with no man yet elected to be in charge, Barca acted quickly to acquire the services of Atletico Madrid midfielder Arda Turan, a signing reportedly requested by Enrique, by activating his €41m release clause [of which €34m was paid up front, the rest in variables] and ending any hopes long-term admirers Manchester United had of sneaking ahead to bring him to Old Trafford.
The bad news, however, was that due to Barca's ongoing transfer ban, the new signings were prohibited from being registered until January 2016.
Now that time has finally arrived and as Vidal and Arda prepare to play in a Barca shirt for the first time, there are a number of ways they could be utilized in Enrique's 4-3-3 system.
Arda made a name for himself playing on the wings in his days at Galatasaray and Atletico, but it is believed that the Turk has been brought in to bring extra competition to the central midfield roles currently occupied by Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic. It’s a position he may not be too familiar with given the fact that he's spent most of his playing days on the wing, but Arda may well find the transition to be a lot smoother than initial thoughts suggested.
He is known for his excellent defensive work rate, tireless running, and close ball control which will see him fit seamlessly into the Barca philosophy and provide more than adequate cover for the 31-year old Iniesta.
Enrique will be hoping Turan will adapt well to a midfield role with there being a lack of room up front due to the deadly trio that occupy the forward spots. The 28-year-old could prove similar to how Angel Di Maria transitioned in his final season at Real Madrid and arguably had the best spell of his four year stay at Santiago Bernabeu.
Arda will also be able to provide sufficient cover for both wing positions if needed given his history of playing in those roles, which will certainly be an added boost given Barca's failure to replace the departed Pedro Rodriguez and with youngsters such as Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramirez so far failing to live up to the high standards of the first team.
Vidal has a lot of similarities to Arda in the sense that he spent most of his career as a winger and works as hard on-and-off the ball, but he's been signed for different reasons. While Arda will likely mainly compete to start in the position currently occupied by Iniesta, Vidal will be Alves' competition for the right-back berth for the next couple of years, having flourished in the role at Sevilla.
Vidal, like Arda, will also provide extra cover for both wing positions having played in such advanced roles for much of his career. But it's more likely that he will get most of his playing time as a full-back and that someone else may be signed to compete up front instead with rumours about Denis Suarez and Nolito returning to Camp Nou.
Still though, Barca are gaining two experienced, proven, and perhaps most importantly, hard-working abd versatile players who can operate in a number of positions and give them more options and ways of playing, something they lacked throughout the first half of the season.
The departure of Pedro, the unfortunate injury to Rafinha and the inability to play their new signings due to the transfer ban limited Lucho’s options. It's meant that the starters, in particular the midfielders, have seldom had opportunities to be rested or rotated and with points being dropped in three of the last four League games, the additions of Arda and Vidal have come at just the right time.