Barcelona have confirmed that midfielder Frenkie de Jong has suffered a calf injury which could rule him out of the season opener against Real Sociedad.
The 24-year-old nearly made it through Wednesday’s defeat to Red Bull Salzburg but had to be withdrawn seven minutes from time after pulling up with the injury.
It’s not the ideal time for Barcelona to lose one of their most influential players. La Blaugrana will get their La Liga campaign underway against Real Sociedad on August 15 and it’s hard to see De Jong being ready to start that one.
Unfortunately for Ronald Koeman, his options to replace De Jong are incredibly limited. Pedri is in need of a rest after playing his 1,000th game of the season at the Olympics, Miralem Pjanic is being frozen out, Matheus Fernandes has been released and Ilaix Moriba has been banished to the reserves while he figures out his future.
Even Gavi, the young starlet drafted in to replace Moriba, is out injured. The 17-year-old fractured his jaw in the defeat to Salzburg and is now set for his own spell on the sidelines.
Koeman will likely have to turn to 21-year-old Riqui Puig (finally) and there may even need to be a return to midfield for Sergi Roberto, who has spent more time at right-back over the past few years.
The boss has just one more ‘friendly’ to figure out how to cope with this injury crisis. Juventus will rock up to Camp Nou on August 8 to compete in the Joan Gamper Trophy, the annual pre-season cup game named in honour of the club founder.
On top of this central midfield conundrum, Koeman is also dealing with the absences of Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Oscar Mingueza, Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Moussa Wague, all of whom are battling injuries.