Barcelona have confirmed midfielder Sergio Busquets has suffered ankle ligament damage and is a major doubt to face Manchester United in the Europa League.
The veteran midfielder limped out of Sunday’s La Liga victory over Sevilla after just 10 minutes at the Camp Nou. The extent of his injury has now been confirmed as he is set to miss several weeks of first-team action for the Blaugrana.
Barca boss Xavi is already at odds with the club’s plans for replacing Busquets, who is out of contract in June, at the end of the campaign. Barca president Joan Laporta is pushing for the club to sign Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, as the club supremo shares a close relationship with his agent Jorge Mendes.
However, Xavi prefers Real Sociedad midfielder Martin Zubimendi while the club's sporting directorate is unconvinced a new signing is required in the position as they believe Frenkie de Jong can play that role – but Xavi disagrees.
Not only are the Catalan club now worried about how they will succeed Busquets at the end of the campaign but how they will reshuffle their midfielder in the short term. It is expected that the extent of his injury will rule him out for between two and three weeks of action.
A short statement from the club read: “Tests carried out this morning have revealed that Sergio Busquets has a lateral collateral ligament sprain in his left ankle. He is out and his recovery will determine his availability.”
Have Your Say! Will Man Utd progress past Barcelona in the Europa League? Tell us what you think here.
Barcelona play host to Manchester United on 16 February before making the return trip to Old Trafford the following week. Busquets is almost certain to miss the first leg with his participation in the second also in major doubt – with forward Ousmane Dembele also a major doubt for both games.
The 34-year-old will also sit out Xavi’s side trip to Villarreal in La Liga this coming weekend and will also not take part in the home league clash against Cadiz. Busquets should be back in action as the Blaugrana travel to Almeria at the end of February.
Barca have an eight-point lead at the top of La Liga over Real Madrid with a remarkable 53 points in 20 matches. They have found it tougher going in Europe this season, crashing out of the Champions League group stages after picking up just one point in four games against Bayern Munich and Inter.