Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has been left with no fit senior center-backs after seeing Clement Lenglet limp off during Sunday’s 4-0 win over Osasuna at the Camp Nou.
The France international was forced off with an ankle injury on 67 minutes following a challenge from Ruben Garcia. Midfielder Frenkie de Jong had to drop into the backline for the rest of the match to partner Oscar Mingueza.
Koeman was already without Gerard Pique, Sergi Roberto, Samuel Umtiti, and Ronald Araujo for the match due to injury. Mingueza, who has been called up from Barcelona B, was making his first La Liga start after an impressive debut in the Champions League on Wednesday.
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Koeman Plays Down Lenglet Injury
Koeman was asked about Lenglet’s injury after seeing his team return to winning ways on Sunday with a comfortable win. The victory is a big boost after defeat to Atletico Madrid last time out and cuts the gap to Diego Simeone’s side to nine points.
The Barcelona boss played down suggestions that Lenglet will be out for a significant period of time but said it was too soon to put a date on when the Frenchman might return to action, as reported by Sport.
I have spoken with the doctor and it seems we will have to wait for tomorrow for tests, but it does not seem that that serious. I don’t know about Wednesday’s game (against Ferencvaros in the Champions League) but I hope it’s nothing major.
Lenglet is a regular in defense under Koeman, and Barca certainly won’t want to lose the experienced Frenchman, particularly with Pique expected to miss the next four months with a knee problem.
Koeman also discussed young Mingueza and explained he had told the 21-year-old after the match where he needs to improve.
I told him that he played really well, but he lost the ball two times in areas where you cannot lose it. We spoke about that. One poor touch can lead to a chance for the opponent. You can have a good game, but two mistakes can cost you the match. He has to learn and improve.
Barcelona’s defensive injury crisis means Mingueza can expect plenty more game time in the coming weeks. He looks almost certain to keep his place for Wednesday’s trip to Ferencvaros in the Champions League and has the opportunity to try and cement a place in the first-team squad.
What Now For Barcelona and Koeman?
Barcelona must wait to see how long Lenglet will be out for but do have a busy fixture list between now and the end of the year. However, Koeman can afford to rotate his squad for their next match against Ferencvaros with qualification to the knockout stages already assured.
The Catalan giants then return to La Liga action on Saturday against newly-promoted Cadiz. There is a chance Araujo and even Umtiti could be fit in time for the game, according to Javier Miguel at AS.
De Jong is also an option to continue in defense, while Koeman could even dip into Barcelona B for some more reinforcements. Arnau Comas and Santiago Ramos Mingo are potential options, according to Albert Roge at Sport.