Barcelona manager Xavi has refused to blame Spain boss Luis de la Fuente for Gavi’s serious knee injury and instead pointed the blame at those in charge of football’s increasingly hectic schedule.
De la Fuente has faced significant criticism for his decision to play Gavi during the November international break after the 19-year-old, a key player for club and country, suffered what is expected to be a season-ending injury against Georgia.
“Unfortunately, Gavi’s loss is very important,” Xavi told a press conference on Friday. “It is a tragedy, he is irreplaceable, with heart, courage. We will have to replace him, but it will be very difficult.”
Xavi declined to blame De la Fuente for Gavi’s injury and argued that the Spain boss was simply doing his job in a football calendar which is growing increasingly unmanageable.
“I have a very good relationship with De la Fuente,” he revealed. “We will speak on Tuesday.
“I don’t see a problem with the coach’s management, but rather with the match schedule. The schedule is very demanding and is the main reason for the injury, beyond being accidental. Schedule, games, minutes. There is no controversy with De la Fuente.”
Asked whether he had urged De la Fuente not to select Gavi, Xavi confirmed he had sent a routine fitness update to the Spanish Federation but insisted he did not have a say in the final decision.
“We always send a report with the load of matches, minutes,” he explained. “We are in contact with all the federations, not just the Spanish one. We always send a report, but, in the end, everyone makes their own decisions.”
Xavi himself suffered a similar injury in December 2005 and missed 32 games for club and country, and the Barca boss admitted he had used his experience to offer Gavi some advice.
“I have spoken with him because I had the same experience as him and that also made me more mature,” Xavi revealed. “It helped me take better care of myself and be more professional.
“I told him recovery is key, don’t skip a day. It’s your knee and it’s very important that you don’t skip a day of recovery.”
What we know
- Gavi suffered a serious knee injury while away on international duty with Spain
- Spain boss Luis de la Fuente has faced criticism from fans for overworking midfielder
- Xavi believes football’s hectic schedule is to blame.