Barcelona are casting around for alternatives in midfield for the rest of the season, with Gavi set to miss the remainder of the campaign. On Monday afternoon, Barcelona confirmed Gavi’s injury was an anterior cruciate ligament tear, and it leaves the Blaugrana somewhat short in the middle of the pitch.
While Pedri, Ilkay Gundogan and Frenkie de Jong stand out as excellent options, beyond that, Xavi Hernandez is looking a little more thin. Veterans Sergi Roberto and Oriol Romeu appear to be regarded as rotation options, while Fermin Lopez is still taking his first steps in La Liga. Sport suggest that Joao Cancelo could be moved into the middle, but that would also require a reshuffle at the back.
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Even if they might be tempted to act in the January transfer market, should Barcelona face further injuries, at least in the immediate future, Xavi will be forced to turn to La Masia and Barca Atletic. Here are the five standout options.
The 20-year-old has been on the fringes of the first team for around a year now, frequently being included in squads if Barcelona are short of options, although rarely seeing much game time. Casado has made two appearances in the past, and is regarded as a safe option by Xavi. Versatile, mature on the ball and competitive, Casado could be the most sensible choice to add some depth.
Perhaps the most natural fit into the Barcelona style guide, Garrido appeared once last season under Xavi. Garrido has started 6 times for Barca Atletic this season, and appeared 10 times, although he missed three games through injury. Blessed with excellent technique, a soft touch and a good understanding of space, Garrido is not used to the rhythm of the senior game.
On loan from Girona, Hernandez is an attacking option who has impressed under Rafa Marquez this season. Making 11 appearances for Barca Atletic, Hernandez has three goals and three assists, and has been compared with Fermin Lopez – he can also operate out wide.
Perhaps the most unlikely to make the sudden jump, Darvich arrived for €2.5m from Freiburg this summer, but is still in the adaptation phase to both Barcelona the city, and the football club. Darvich is currently captaining the Germany side at the under-17 World Cup. Technically gifted, Darvich is also used to playing further forward than as a pure interior.
Also at the under-17 World Cup, Bernal has been one of the surprises of the season at Barca Atletic. In possession of an impressive left foot, Bernal has appeared in all but two of the games he has been available for, scoring twice and assisting once – he has started seven of those eight games he featured in too. Quick-witted, Bernal is already tall and physical, which may give him an edge for Xavi.