The unexpected blow of Gavi’s injury has sent shockwaves through the Barcelona season, leaving fans in a state of helplessness and frustration. Xavi faces the challenge of finding a suitable replacement for the young heart of the team, a task made intricate by the unique qualities Gavi brings to the midfield.
Gavi’s injury has left a void that seems difficult to fill. Known for his unmatched intensity and competitive spirit, Gavi’s absence raises questions about how Barcelona will cope without the player Xavi described as “a heart with legs.”
The Midfield Options: Searching for a Match
In the midfield, Xavi has capable options, but none quite in the mold of Gavi. With De Jong’s return, the quartet of Frenkie, Gündogan, Pedri, and Joao Félix is envisioned for crucial games. Yet, alternatives like Romeu, Fermín, Sergi Roberto, and Cancelo present themselves, albeit with different playing styles.
Barça Atlètic’s Potential Saviors
Turning to Barça Atlètic, Xavi explores emerging talents. Marc Casadó, a mature midfielder with versatility, stands out. Aleix Garrido, often compared to Iniesta, brings a natural talent that might shine in the first team. The rise of youngsters like Bernal and Pau Prim signals a potential leap to the senior squad.
Unearthing Hidden Gems
Marc Bernal, at just 16, impresses with his rapid decision-making and imposing physique. Unai Hernández, an offensive midfielder, and Noah Darvich, a technical talent, emerge as Xavi’s options. Darvich, currently shining in the U17 World Cup, showcases his potential, albeit still adapting to Barça’s playing style.
Navigating Transfer Regulations
The prospect of Barcelona making a mid-season transfer to compensate for Gavi’s injury has stirred discussions among fans. However, understanding the regulations set by the Real Federación Española de Fútbol (RFEF) is crucial in assessing the feasibility of such a move.
As of September 2020, the RFEF introduced a new General Regulation that eliminated the provision allowing clubs to sign players outside the regular transfer window in the case of long-term injuries. This rule change restricts clubs to only signing players who are either free agents or currently playing in Spain.
The Braithwaite Precedent
Previously, Spain was unique in allowing such mid-season transfers due to long-term injuries. This was notably exploited by Barcelona when they signed Martin Braithwaite from Leganés in February 2020 after the injury to Luis Suárez. However, this avenue is no longer available under the current regulations.
The next opportunity for Barcelona to reinforce its squad comes in the winter transfer window in January. If the club adheres to the economic constraints of the Liga’s financial fair play, signing new players becomes a possibility. However, this hinges on whether Barcelona completed their permitted player registrations during the summer window, a factor that may affect their eligibility in January 2024.
The 80% Clause
Even if Barcelona, currently exceeding the salary cap, decides to sign a player in January, there are financial restrictions. The new player’s salary cannot exceed 80% of Gavi’s, and the contract must only extend until the end of the season. This clause is essential to ensure that any incoming player aligns with the financial constraints set by the club.
Vítor Roque’s Contractual Situation
Amidst Barcelona’s contemplation of potential transfers following Gavi’s injury, Vítor Roque’s contractual status adds an intriguing layer to the discussion.
Vítor Roque, a player whose name has surfaced in transfer speculations, is currently under contract. This agreement extends beyond the immediate season, meaning that even though Gavi’s injury might create a vacancy in the squad, registering Roque’s existing contract remains a challenge.
Xavi faces a tactical puzzle in the aftermath of Gavi’s injury, as he navigates through the options within the squad and explores the young talents waiting in the wings. The void left by Gavi is substantial, but Barcelona’s rich youth academy may hold the key to fill this gap and continue the season with renewed determination.