The international break curse hit FC Barcelona hard last night as key midfielder Gavi suffered a serious knee injury during Spain’s contest against Georgia.
After initial examinations, it is being reported that the 19-year-old sensation has ruptured his ACL and is set for a lengthy spell out on the sidelines.
Early reports suggest that Gavi will no longer participate in the current season, with his recovery time expected to be between six to eight months.
It leaves Barcelona hamstrung, considering how important the youngster is to Xavi Hernandez’s plans.
And even though the Blaugrana would be allowed to make an emergency short-term signing in light of Gavi’s injury despite exceeding their salary limit, the club could look for solutions internally.
And, SPORT lists six midfield options from the youth and reserve ranks that Xavi could turn to in the absence of Gavi.
The 20-year-old Barça Atletic captain has been patiently waiting for his opportunity under Xavi and is often on the squad list without getting any meaningful opportunities.
Even though he is more of a pivot midfielder and is completely different to Gavi’s profile, Casado is versatile enough to play as an interior or as a full-back as well. Xavi likes and trusts the youngster due to his maturity and competitive nature.
Another player who has some first-team exposure, having made his debut under Xavi last season, Garrido has been hailed as a natural talent within the club, with some comparisons drawn between him and the legendary Andres Iniesta.
Known for his excellent decision-making while on the ball, Garrido is seen as a differential player who can make the most of spaces between the lines and can have an impact with the senior team if given a chance.
A player that Xavi and Deco are very high on, Bernal is just 16 years old but is already a regular for Barça Atletic this season. Currently away playing for Spain at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in Indonesia, the teenage midfielder can play as an interior or as a pivot as well.
Bernal is a physical specimen, standing at 1.90m despite being just 16, and he backs it up with technical ability, reading of the game, and quick thinking, which makes him an asset in the middle of the park.
Noah Darvich (17), who is shining for Germany at the U17 World Cup, is also an option for Xavi, although he is in the process of adapting to the youth team, having arrived only last summer.
The German has taken part in several first-team training sessions and his compatriots Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Ilkay Gundogan have been supporting him in the transition. Darvich stands out mainly for being a very technical player, with great passing accuracy, but he is still adjusting to positional play at Barça.
Another player Xavi likes a lot is Unai Hernández (18 years old), an attacking midfielder who can play both as an interior midfielder and as a winger. This season he has become more and more important for the reserve team.
Formerly of Girona, Unai Hernandez can be a good fit in Xavi’s midfield box setup and can contribute with goals as well, having netted 15 times last season for the youth team.