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Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid hit with year-long transfer bans

Real Madrid v Atletico de Madrid - Copa del Rey: Round of 16

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 15: James Rodriguez of Real Madrid is tackled by Raul Garcia of Atletico de Madrid during the Copa del Rey Round of 16, Second leg match between Real Madrid and Atletico de Madrid at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on January 15, 2015 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

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Well, wow.

No sooner had Barcelona’s transfer bans expired that its main competitors for La Liga’s title found themselves with bans of their own.

Multiple reports say Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid have been banned from registering players for the next two transfer windows, meaning they’ve got about two weeks to do business for the next year. The punishments stem from the signing of underage players.

[ MORE: FIFA judges explain 7-year ban for World Cup bid inspector ]

As with Barcelona during its recent ban, both clubs can acquire players but not put them on the pitch. Arda Turan and others are making their Barca debuts now despite being purchased in the summer.

The fines don’t mean much, but how this will affect January is a big question. Surely there will be appeals, and both clubs will do everything they can to work around the bans.

Real has been heavily linked with some big names in this window. That’s not even remotely unusual, but given the circumstances there could be more credence to the rumors. Does this change the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Isco? Does it make it more likely they spring a big buy for Eden Hazard or John Stones?

And what about Atletico? Could it become more important to make their Jackson Martinez for Diego Costa swap?

Heady times in Madrid.

It’s tremendous news for Barcelona, competitively, in terms of leveling the playing field, and also great news for any La Liga upstarts and former contenders hoping to go next level. Villarreal is just five points off the title pace right now, and teams like Sevilla can rebuild while Atleti and Real stay stagnant.

Follow @NicholasMendola