Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has offered updates on his injured players and confirmed quartet Gerard Pique, Sergino Dest, Memphis Depay, and Ansu Fati are all close to a return to first-team action.
Veteran center-back Pique became the latest player to join Barca’s injured list after being forced off in the first half of the team’s 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League.
Xavi told a news conference on Saturday, April 9 that the 35-year-old is working hard to make a swift return and could even be back in time for the crucial second leg of the quarter-final.
“He’s making a tremendous effort. These last two months he’s been incredible, he’s been playing at a high level. The other day we took him out because he wasn’t feeling great,” he said. “He won’t play tomorrow and we’ll see on Thursday. He wants to try, he’s committed, but we’ll see how he feels. It’s not an injury, it’s more fatigue in his muscles after so much effort.”
Pique underwent tests after the draw in Germany. Barcelona annnounced the tests have shown the defender has “a left adductor tendinopathy.”
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Memphis & Dest To Return in Europa League?
Xavi also confirmed that Memphis Depay and Sergino Dest will join Pique in missing Barca’s trip to Levante in La Liga on Sunday, April 10. However, the duo could return four days later when Eintracht are at the Camp Nou for the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final.
“Both are close to coming back. They won’t be back tomorrow, it’s a bit too tight, but hopefully for Thursday,” he said. “It’s on the sensations of each player, we don’t want them to re-injure themselves. It’s more about sensations than the commitment of the players.”
The return of Dest in particular would be timely. Barca are short of options at right-back in Europe as Dani Alves was left out of the Europa League squad. Center-back Ronald Araujo covered on the right flank in the first leg.
Ansu Fati ‘Looking Good’
Yet the one player that fans may be most excited to finally see back in action will be Ansu Fati. The teenager has not played since January 2021 but is not too far away now from playing competitively once again.
“All the injured players receive care and attention and in Ansu’s case, of course he’s a differential player, it’s difficult when he’s not here and we’re happy to have him back training with us,” said Xavi. “Things are looking good. He needs three or four more practices, but he doesn’t feel any pain and that’s important for us. He’s feeling good and hopefully he will come back sooner rather than later.”
Fati was five goals in 10 appearances for Barcelona this season and is one of the brightest young talents at the Camp Nou. The teenager’s return would provide a huge boost to Xavi’s side ahead of the final weeks of the 2021-22 campaign.