Barça’s Gavi suffers ‘significant knee injury’

Barcelona midfielder Gavi is set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after suffering an anterior cruciate ligament injury in Spain’s 3-1 Euro 2024 qualifying win against Georgia on Sunday, various sources have told ESPN.

A Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) spokesperson confirmed they have already transmitted the diagnosis to Barça, who will carry out their own tests on Gavi’s right knee Monday.

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Spain coach Luis de la Fuente made nine changes to the La Roja side that beat Cyprus last Friday, with Gavi one of just two players, along with Real Sociedad’s Robin Le Normand, to keep their place.

However, he was forced off midway through the first half after landing awkwardly when controlling the ball moments after a collision with Georgia’s Luka Lochoshvili, which was unrelated to the injury.

Gavi, 19, was able to limp off the pitch with Spain’s medical staff, but the expression on his face suggested he feared the worst.

“It looks like it’s a serious injury,” De la Fuente told reporters after the game. “He is really worried. It’s the most bitter victory I’ve ever experienced in my life.

“We are waiting for the definitive tests. He will go to Barcelona now with [Spain sporting director] Albert Luque for further tests. We are destroyed. It’s as if we have lost the game.”

He added: “Gavi is broken, destroyed … he didn’t think these things could happen to him. When they have not happened to you before, you can think you’re not vulnerable, but we are very fragile. Of course he is sad, we are all broken. There is no explanation other than these things happen in life.

“Yes, the toughest day in this sport for me, the most bitter.”

The Spain players also seemed aware of the extent of the injury, with Barça teammate Ferran Torres celebrating his goal, which made it 2-1, by holding up Gavi’s No. 9 shirt.

“It was an important win to end the qualifying phase well, but it is a bittersweet feeling due to the injury to Gavi,” Torres said.

“Hopefully he can recover as soon as possible. We don’t know extent of the injury, we will have to see in the coming days, but knowing Gavi, what a warrior he is, we think it could be serious.”

Gavi has been a regular for Barça and Spain this season, missing only two games — both for his club — through suspension.

But De la Fuente refuted suggestions that the injury was a result of Gavi playing too many games.

“It’s an accident, it’s bad luck. It doesn’t have anything to do with the accumulation of games,” he said.

“He was in perfect condition. He hasn’t played before the international break because he was suspended. He was fresh and in great shape. There was no problem.”

Gavi’s importance for Xavi Hernández’s Spanish champions has grown due to long-term injuries to Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, with the coach calling him the “heart and soul of the team.”

Pedri returned to action just before the international break after two months out, while De Jong is in line to make his comeback against Rayo Vallecano this weekend.

Barça then face FC Porto, Atlético Madrid and surprise LaLiga leaders Girona at home in three potentially season-defining games.

Spain had already booked their place at next summer’s Euro 2024 finals in Germany prior to Sunday’s match against Georgia, but still ended their qualifying campaign with a win at the José Zorrilla Stadium in Valladolid.

Le Normand gave them a fourth-minute lead only for Napoli winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia to draw the visitors level just six minutes later.

Torres restored Spain’s lead in the 55th minute and Lochoshvili completed the scoring, heading youngster Lamine Yamal’s cross into his own net with just under 20 minutes remaining.

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