Barcelona midfielder Gavi is unlikely to play again this season after the Catalan club confirmed he tore his anterior cruciate ligament while playing for Spain on Sunday.
Gavi, 19, suffered an injury involving the lateral meniscus and will undergo surgery later this week.
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Barca will provide a timeframe for his recovery after the operation, but Gavi is expected to miss the rest of the campaign and is a major doubt for Euro 2024 and next summer’s Olympic Games with Spain.
“Examinations carried out on Monday’s first-team player Gavi revealed a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and an injury to the lateral meniscus,” Barca said in a statement.
“The player will undergo surgery in the coming days after which a new medical update will be released.”
Gavi was forced off midway through the first half of Spain’s 3-1 win over Georgia after landing awkwardly while controlling the ball following a collision with Georgia’s Luka Lochoshvili.
Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said the incident with Lochoshvili was not injury-related.
The confirmation of the ACL tear has been met with fury by Barca, with sources telling ESPN that the club feel it could have been avoided as Spain have already secured their place at Euro 2024 next summer.
Despite that, Gavi is one of only two players to start two of La Rosa’s games during the current international break, in wins against Cyprus on Thursday and then Georgia in Valladolid on Sunday.
De la Fuente said the injury was “unfortunate” but did not overplay Gavi.
“He was in perfect condition,” De La Fuente insisted after the game. “He didn’t play before the international break because he was suspended, he was fresh and in great form. There was no problem.
“We are all broken, it feels like we lost the game in the dressing room. There is no explanation other than these events in life. For me this is the hardest day of the game, the most bitter.”
Gavi has been a regular for Barca and Spain this season, missing just two games — both for his club — through suspension. Only Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ilkay Gundogan have played more minutes for Barca.
Xavi Hernandez’s importance to the Spanish champions has increased due to long-term injuries to Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, with the coach calling him “the heart and soul of the team”.
Sources also highlight the role he plays in the dressing room, bridging the gap between the team’s veterans and youngsters, despite being a teenager himself.
De la Fuente said Gavi didn’t think he could be hurt so badly.
“Gavi is broken, destroyed,” he said. “He didn’t think these things could happen to him. When they haven’t happened to you before, you might think you’re not weak, but we’re very fragile.”
Barca return to action this Saturday against Rayo Vallecano and despite losing Gavi, they were boosted by the return of Pedri just before the international break. De Jong is in line for his comeback this weekend.
Xavi’s side then face Porto, Atletico Madrid and surprise La Liga leaders Girona at home in three potentially season-defining games.