BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona have signed Denmark striker Martin Braithwaite from fellow La Liga side Leganes for 18 million euros (15.05 million pounds) after receiving permission from the league's organising body to acquire a player outside the transfer window.
The Spanish champions said in a statement on Thursday they had paid the player's release clause and he will join the club until June 2024, with a buy-out clause of 300 million euros.
The 28-year-old, who scored six league goals in 21 starts for Leganes this season will be officially unveiled at the Camp Nou later on Thursday.
Barca decided not to sign a forward in the January transfer window after Luis Suarez was ruled out for four months following knee surgery but need another striker after French international Ousmane Dembele ruptured his hamstring.
Dembele was ruled out for six months after surgery earlier this month and, unlike in other major European leagues, clubs in Spain are allowed to sign a player outside the transfer window under special circumstances.
Leganes, who are second-bottom in La Liga, have been forced to part ways with their two key strikers since the start of the year after Youssef En-Nesyri left in January when Sevilla paid his 20 million-euro release clause.
Chief executive Martin Ortega fiercely criticised the rule which has left his side without their top scorer in their battle against relegation.
"We believe this rule is not fair and Barcelona have benefited from it while Leganes have been harmed by it. We want to raise our voices because we're in a very serious situation and have suffered a lot of damage," he told reporters.
"We cannot understand the ruling that allows a club that has an injured player to carry out an operation like this unilaterally and transfer their problem to another club."
However, he said he had no problem with Braithwaite or Barcelona.
"Barcelona have acted correctly, they told us on Monday of their intentions and the only way to get him was to pay the clause," he added.
"We want to thank the player who has been professional until he left the club and who has been performed superbly for us."
Braithwaite began his career with Danish side Esbjerg, later moving to Ligue 1 club Toulouse and then English outfit Middlesbrough, also playing on loan for Girondins Bordeaux.
He has made 39 appearances for Denmark, including four matches at the 2018 World Cup.
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris and Ed Osmond)
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