International breaks are never a good omen for European clubs, none more so than FC Barcelona.
As the season’s first international break comes to an end, Barcelona have Ilkay Gundogan struggling with a knock and is doubtful for the upcoming game against Real Betis.
Pedri, too, is out injured whereas Fermin Lopez is not eligible to play this weekend, leaving Xavi with limited options in midfield.
Although recent reports suggest Gundogan’s injury is not serious and the player could be available against Betis, Barcelona have adopted a strict, no-nonsense policy against injured players.
That means the club might require young players to fill up the ranks in the coming matches And here, at Barça Universal, we will take a look at the young options Xavi has at his disposal as he looks to fill the void in the middle of the park against Real Betis.
Among the young midfielders, Barcelona have in their locker, Marc Casado is by far the most promising one.
The 19-year-old was a part of Barcelona’s senior side all throughout the summer and had even made his competitive debut last season.
A number six by trade, Casado has excellent defensive prowess and could add stability in the pivot, should Xavi look to assign a more attacking role to Frenkie de Jong, in the absence of Pedri and Gundogan.
Aleix Garrido is another Barça Athletic star who made his senior debut last season and is among the frontline options for Xavi Hernandez.
Garrido is more of a natural alternative for Gundogan as he is known for his creativity and ability to pass between the lines.
Xavi himself has admitted in the past that he rates Garrido quite highly and it will not come as a surprise to see him feature in any of Barcelona’s next couple of matches.
Moving further down the quarry, Barcelona have Unai Hernandez, a dynamic central midfielder, who has scored one goal in three matches for the reserve squad this season.
Unai is another like-for-like alternative for Gundogan and Pedri, as he can operate as a natural number ten.
The Spaniard should also fit well in Xavi’s 4-3-3 system, acting as the interior midfielder that can provide the creative essence in the final third.
A product of the Freiburg youth academy, Noah Darvich joined the Barcelona academy earlier this summer for a fee of €2.5 million.
Darvich joined the academy on the back of a great spell in Freiburg’s youth academy. He is already regarded as one of the most promising young talents at La Masia.
At just 16, Darvich has limited experience at the highest level. But the German has shown exceptional promise and could be an interesting option for Xavi.
Finally, Barcelona have Pau Prim, a homegrown defensive midfielder with a wealth of knowledge about the positional style of play.
Prim has shown a lot of promise during his time in the youth ranks, though the player must further improve himself in order to stand a chance of making his debut for the senior team this season.