Gavi Paez of Spain reacts after injuring his leg during the Euro 2024 Group A qualifying football match between Spain and Georgia at the Jose Zorrilla Stadium in Valladolid, Spain, Sunday, November 19-23, 2023. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

MADRID – The latest international break is proving costly for several European clubs, including Spanish powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Both teams will be exhausted by the injury absences of key players affected by the “FIFA virus” while on duty with their national teams.

Shortly after Real Madrid confirmed injuries to Brazilian striker Vinícius Júnior and French midfielder Eduardo Camavinga, Barcelona saw midfielder Gavi arrive on crutches from his time in Spain in the European Championship qualifiers because of a serious injury that will likely cause him to miss the rest of the season.

Gavi, who cried as he limped off the field in the 26th minute of Spain’s 3-1 victory over Georgia on Sunday, will require surgery in the coming days to repair a complete rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.

Premier League champions Manchester City have apparently avoided a scare – Erling Haaland’s ankle injury, suffered in a friendly between Norway and the Faroe Islands on Thursday, does not appear to be very serious.

Paris Saint-Germain were not so lucky with Warren Zaïre-Emery, a 17-year-old midfielder who injured his right ankle as he became France’s youngest goalscorer on his international debut in a record 14-0 thrashing of Gibraltar in the European qualifiers on Saturday.

Manchester United could also be in trouble after goalkeeper André Onana failed to finish Cameroon’s World Cup qualifier on Friday, while Inter Milan saw defender Alessandro Bastoni injured while playing for Italy.

The media in Spain and other countries refer to injuries sustained on international duty as the “FIFA virus”. And Gavi’s injury is another example.

“A very high price,” read the front page headline of sports daily Marca on Monday, alongside a photo of Spanish striker Ferran Torres holding Gavi’s shirt after he scored one of the team’s second-half goals.

Injured Warren Zaire-Emery of France receives assistance during the Euro 2024 Group B qualifier football match between France and Gibraltar in Nice, France, Saturday, November 18, 2023

Injured Warren Zaire-Emery of France receives assistance during the Euro 2024 Group B qualifying football match between France and Gibraltar in Nice, France, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

Some Spanish media outlets were quick to blame Spanish coach Luis de la Fuente for not taking Gavi out of the game moments earlier when he received a blow to the same knee. The match meant little to Spain because they had already secured their place at Euro 2024. Local reports said Barcelona were considering making a formal complaint to the Spanish football federation.

De la Fuente said Gavi’s injury was one of the “most difficult” moments of his coaching career, but noted it had nothing to do with the knock he received earlier.

“This could happen at any time. It was an accident,” said De la Fuente. “It is a very difficult time. It’s difficult for him, for the club, for his teammates, for me and for the federation. We are devastated.”

De la Fuente rested some of the other regulars who played in the team’s 3-1 win in Cyprus on Thursday, but 19-year-old Gavi returned to the starting line-up after playing the entire game last week.

Clubs receive financial compensation when their players are injured on the national team and are absent for more than 28 days, but Gavi’s absence will be felt by Barcelona because he was one of the key players in coach Xavi Hernandez’s team this season. is on his way to play. the Champions League qualifiers after two consecutive eliminations in the group stage.

Real Madrid, who are already in the next round of the Champions League and fighting for the lead in the Spanish Championship, will be without Vinícius for around two months because of a muscle injury that the striker suffered in Brazil’s 2-1 defeat to Colombia, in the World Cup qualifiers, on Friday. Vinícius, 23, has scored six goals for Real Madrid this season, including three in the team’s last two games.

Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will also be without Camavinga for some time. The 21-year-old midfielder tore a ligament in his right knee while training with the French national team. Camavinga started all four of Real Madrid’s Champions League games and has played in all 13 of their Spanish league games this season.

Another Spanish club affected was Real Sociedad, which saw midfielder Mikel Oyarzabal – one of the key players for the sixth-placed team in the Spanish league – leave Spain’s match against Cyprus with a muscle injury.

In Italy, striker Victor Osimhen has not played for Napoli since the last international break, after being injured by Nigeria, and it was not the first time he missed time at his club due to problems suffered with this national team.

A recent study by insurance group Howden showed that player absences due to injuries were longer after last year’s World Cup in Qatar, the first held in the European winter and in the middle of the season.

FIFA approved its club insurance program when Bayern Munich manager Karl-Heinz Rummenigge complained after Arjen Robben was injured for the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. FIFA allocated $150 million for the 2023-26 Men’s World Cup period for its Club Protection Program, and can pay a maximum of 7.5 million euros ($8.2 million) for a player’s injury, according to a daily rate of 20,548 euros ($22,450). payable for a maximum of 365 days.”

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The current international break, the last of the year, ends with games around the world on Monday and Tuesday.


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