HomeBarcelona boss Xavi laments loss of 'irreplaceable' Gavi and blames injury on...

Barcelona boss Xavi laments loss of ‘irreplaceable’ Gavi and blames injury on schedule

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Xavi described Gavi as irreplaceable as he blamed the busy schedule for the serious injury which will likely cause the Barcelona midfielder to miss the rest of the season.

Gavi was forced off midway through the first half of Spain’s 3-1 win over Georgia last Sunday, having twisted his knee awkwardly while attempting to control a bouncing ball.

Though the 19-year-old was able to limp off with help from Spain’s medical team, it was subsequently revealed he had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, also damaging the lateral meniscus.

Gavi will now undergo surgery next week but his chances of representing Barcelona again before the end of 2023-24 – or featuring for Spain at Euro 2024 – appear to be over.

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Asked about Gavi’s injury as Barca prepare to visit Rayo Vallecano in LaLiga on Saturday, Xavi said: “It is a huge loss for us.

“You can’t replace him, with the heart, passion and courage he plays with. We have to try and find solutions without him, but it’s difficult.

“Rayo is the type of game where we need Gavi’s mentality and quality. It will be intense. Vallecas is always a difficult place to go for us.”

Reports earlier this week suggested Barcelona were angered by Spain boss Luis de la Fuente’s decision to field Gavi in back-to-back games during the international break, but Xavi refused to directly blame La Roja for the injury.

Instead, he took aim at the amount of travel required during regular international breaks, suggesting changes to the schedule are required.

“I think the injury is related to the schedule, at Gavi’s age, with the amount of minutes and games he has had,” Xavi said. “[But] sometimes injuries can just be unfortunate as well.

“FIFA are looking at the possibility of having eight or nine months with your club, going away with your national teams for up to two months and then having time off.

“It would avoid so much travelling. [Ronald] Araujo and Raphinha are just coming back from 14-hour flights.

“They haven’t trained and tomorrow we have a game. There are players from Africa, South America and Asia that have to travel too much.”

While Gavi is out, Xavi will at least have fellow midfielder Frenkie de Jong back this weekend after the Dutchman endured his own two-month lay-off. Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen will not feature after sustaining a back injury, however, so Inaki Pena will play between the sticks.

Barca emerge from the international break four points adrift of surprise leaders Girona at the top of LaLiga, with rivals Real Madrid also two points clear of the Blaugrana after their 2-1 Clasico win last month.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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