Barca need to avoid ruining Ansu Fati’s future

26 Jan 2022 | 04:15 | Football

The pressure of achievement caused the Camp Nou team to make mistakes in using and treating Fati’s injury.

After 389 days of sitting out due to injury in the last two seasons, Barca’s young talent wearing the number 10 shirt continues to have health problems. Coach Xavi Hernandez himself must admit that Barca needs to change and plan to use Fati more carefully. The Barca captain and the club’s medical team are partly responsible for the latest injury that Fati has.

- Football

Coach Xavi comforts Fati after the player relapsed with a hamstring injury in the 2-3 defeat to Bilbao. Photo: Reuters.


After a meeting on the evening of January 24 (Hanoi time) between the representative Jorge Mendes and Barca’s doctors, Fati confirmed he did not want to continue on the operating table. The Catalan club’s medical team advised the 19-year-old striker to undergo surgery to completely treat the hamstring injury.

However, the obsession with left knee surgery at the end of 2020 made Fati not want to continue on the operating table. The worry for Barca right now lies in the fact that they do not know exactly when the player can return. That is the price to pay when the Catalan club is impatient to use the star wearing the number 10 shirt.

Coach Xavi received a lot of criticism for using Fati inappropriately in the past. When the player born in 2002 limped off the field during the 2-3 Copa del Rey defeat of Athletic Bilbao, coach Xavi probably regretted using the player beyond the recommended time.

Before the match between Bilbao and Barca took place, Barca’s doctor advised Xavi to only use Fati for a period of 30 minutes. The Barca captain did as he was told, when the striker born in 2002 entered the field in the 61st minute.

However, Barca was dragged into extra time by Bilbao and when Fati finished his 35th minute of the game, he was injured. Raymond Verheijen, who was a fitness assistant for the Netherlands and Wales, assessed Fati’s recurrence of a hamstring injury as a result of overload.

“Coach Xavi obviously never wants his players to get injured ,” Verheijen analyzed. “But the fact that he relapsed with a hamstring injury in November 2021 shows that Barca used players too much.”

Fati may be out of luck as he has to play extra time in the Copa del Rey match against Bilbao. “The recurrence of Fati’s injury is out of our control ,” admitted coach Xavi. “Obviously the club has to come up with a plan now to make sure he doesn’t have that problem again.”

Xavi is also not the only member of Barca to be criticized when Fati is injured. Late last year, former coach Ronald Koeman and interim strategist Sergi Barjuan were criticized for using the number 10 repeatedly since the player returned from a knee ligament injury.

A hamstring injury in November kept Fati out for the rest of 2021. He only returned when Barca faced Real Madrid in the semi-finals of the Spanish Super Cup on January 12. The talent matured from La Masia furnace entered the field in the 66th minute, and had to play another 30 minutes of extra time.

When Xavi took charge of Barca, the first thing the former midfielder did was bring back doctor Ricard Pruna, who only left the Catalan club last year. Mr. Pruna used to have 25 years working at Camp Nou, and is extremely knowledgeable about the inside of the club. The former Barca captain is said to be unhappy with the club’s medical team.

However, the current Barca star’s injury status does not only stem from the capacity of the medical team. The Camp Nou home team is having a difficult season in terms of force, and the constant use of young players only makes the club’s injury situation worse.

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Fati once suffered a hamstring injury in November 2021. Photo: Reuters.

Fati is not the only victim

Pedri started in Barca’s 1-0 win over Alaves over the weekend. And seeing how the 19-year-old midfielder has been plowing continuously since returning from a muscle injury in early January says a lot. The 19-year-old midfielder played 74 minutes in the defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup.

When he lost to Bilbao in the King’s Cup, Pedri continued to plow for 108 minutes. He showed signs of muscle pain after the match against the Basque club ended. However, until the match against Alaves last weekend, Pedrid still played the full 90 minutes.

Coach Xavi does not have many options for personnel at the moment. After defeats in the Champions League, Spanish Super Cup and King’s Cup, Barca must now try to save the season. Every match in La Liga against the Camp Nou team is now no different from the final.

Young players like Nico Gonzalez, Gavi or Pedri are constantly kicking when healthy. Expert Verheijen said that for young players at the age of 19, 20, having to play continuously can lead to overload.

“The bodies of young players have not yet adapted to the intensity of continuous peak competition for a long time,” commented former assistant coach Guus Hiddink. “The lesson from Jack Wilshere or many other young players is proof of this.”

Barca is having a generation of promising young players like Fati, Pedri or Gavi. However, they need to be more careful in how they use these talents. The trauma nightmare that Fati is going through is an alarm bell for the Catalan club.

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