Dubai: As Lionel Messi prepares for his Barcelona departure, the Catalan club are seeing no light at the end of the tunnel as an injury crisis has been piled on top of some miserable results.
Defenders Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto are out for the foreseeable future in the wake of another damaging result to Ronald Koeman’s already-shaky reign as manager.
Saturday’s 1-0 La Liga defeat by Atletico Madrid was the fist time in a decade they have lost to their rivals and Barca languish down in 10th spot (that’s double figures after eight games for the first time since before Lionel Messi was born).
While all signs point to Messi leaving on a free in the summer, the alarm bells right now are at the back in Camp Nou. A Barca medical report said veteran centre back Pique, who limped off the pitch in the second half in tears, had sprained the internal lateral ligament in his right knee as well as sustaining a partial injury to the anterior crucial ligament. That means a possible end to his season ... if not more.
The statement did not state how long Pique would be out for but optimistic reports in the Spanish media estimated he would be out for five months.
Right-back Sergi Roberto, meanwhile, ruptured a muscle in his thigh and will be out for two months.
The loss of the two defenders add to previous injuries to Samuel Umtiti and Ronald Araujo and leave coach Koeman with only three defenders (Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest) available for Tuesday’s Champions League trip to Dynamo Kiev.
Barca will also be without forward Ansu Fati for the next four months after he underwent knee surgery earlier this month, while midfielder Sergio Busquets is out with a knee problem but is due back by the end of the month.
Yannick Carrasco’s goal for Atletico inflicted a third defeat in eight league games on Barca, who are 10th in the standings, nine points adrift of second-placed Atleti and leaders Real Sociedad.
Troubled times indeed...