Barcelona unlikely to sign a permanent replacement for Gavi

Barcelona are unlikely to sign a permanent replacement for the injured Gavi – despite receiving up to £6m from FIFA in compensation – with a Spurs outcast emerging as an option for the FURIOUS Spanish giants

  • Xavi was left incandescent at one of his star players getting injured for Spain
  • Gavi ruled out for the rest of the season amid fears he might miss a year
  • A ref had metal plates after a broken jaw and feared being followed home – IAKO 

Barcelona know that midfielder Gavi’s goodbye to the season could also be their ‘adios’ to the League title if they don’t replace him adequately, and that makes what they do in January crucial to how their season plays out.

Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso has emerged as an early contender to arrive on loan at the start of the new year, as fury at such an unnecessary injury very slowly subsides.

Xavi was incandescent in the immediate aftermath. Gavi was one of only two players who started both games for Spain during the international break, Real Sociedad defender Robin Le Normand was the other.

He had played 90 minutes against Cyprus and no one at Barcelona understands why, in a game where only top spot was on the line, it was necessary for a player who had already played 15 games this season, to start once more.

Writing in Diario AS sports medicine expert Dr. Jose Gonzalez said that the injury – a torn cruciate with some damage to the meniscus – could mean that Gavi would not be back to 100 per cent for up to a year. He also agreed the sheer weight of games players were being asked to play has to be revised.

Gavi was pulled up by a gut-wrenching injury which saw the player clutching his knee in agony

The midfielder was forced off just 26 minutes into Spain’s 3-1 win against Georgia in qualifiers

The 19-year-old cut an inconsolable figure as he was walked off the pitch and head coach Luis de la Fuente said the night was ‘the most bitter victory’

Barcelona must take responsibility too. Just as they were raging about Gavi’s injury they were also announcing that they will play a friendly game in Dallas on December 21 just a day after their last league game of the year.

Fixtures are piled on top of fixtures to maximize revenue – the friendly against Club America at the Cotton Bowl Stadium will raise around €5million (£4.4m). International football is the easy target when it comes to clubs apportioning blame.

Barcelona will be compensated by FIFA €20,000 (£17,500) a day for up to a year. If Gavi is out for 12 months they will end up receiving just over €7m (£6.1m). They now need to concentrate on replacing a player who had become so important for them despite being only 19.

La Liga rules mean they can spend 80 per cent of what Gavi earns, on the wages of a new signing. He picks up around €7m gross so that means a player earning around €5.6m (£4.9m) a year could come in – earning around €3.7m (3.2m) for the remaining two-thirds of the season.

It’s less clear what Barcelona would be able to spend on a transfer fee although it’s possible that the up to €7m in compensation could go on a replacement if the club do choose to make a permanent signing. A loan until the end of the season is far more likely. They can’t make the signing now unless they find a suitable player out of contract. In January they can make their move for someone who is under contract and Lo Celso ticks many boxes.

He is out of favour at Tottenham and has La Liga experience having played for Villarreal. Xavi has shown interest in the World Cup winner before and would be in favour of him arriving to take the strain off of a stretched midfield.

Oriol Romeu made a good start to the season but, by his own admission, has struggled more recently.

Frenkie de Jong has been injured since the end of September and is back in training but not match fit.

Ilkay Gundogan has had to play deeper as a consequence and has not been able to show his Manchester City form. Pedri was until recently out for two months with a hamstring injury – his third this year.

Barcelona ‘s squad greeted and consoled Gavi after the Spanish midfielder visited their training ground for the first time since suffering a serious knee injury

He was seen hobbling around on crutches before he received a warm embrace from boss Xavi 

Were it not for the unexpected maturity shown by 20-year-old Fermin Lopez, Xavi would have been in an even worse place. In his first full season Fermin has already started five games.

Whoever comes in he will not be the same cannonball of energy and determination. In a team desperately trying to find new leaders Gavi had emerged as one of those.

To see him in tears on the side of the pitch at the Jose Zorrilla stadium on Monday and to hear the cries of ‘why me’ and ‘I can’t believe it’ was a reminder of his tender years.

He has taken on so much responsibility so soon that it had almost been forgotten that he is not yet 20. He’s air of indestructibility – having only ever suffered a broken cheek bone to date – also seemed to increase the impact the injury has had on everyone at the club.

There were a few angry calls for the Spanish Federation to be sued in the immediate aftermath but once tempers had cooled it became clear that was not a viable option, nor one that Barcelona wanted to take.

The sporting director of the national side is Albert Luque who has a good relationship with Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Ill feeling was soon replaced by a shared sense of sadness that Gavi will now miss the Euros, the Olympics and the rest of Barcelona’s season.


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