Spain manager Luis de la Fuente has rejected claims he overworked Gavi after the Barcelona midfielder suffered what is feared to be a season-ending injury in Sunday’s victory over Georgia.
De la Fuente’s side had already qualified for Euro 2024 and had nothing to play for during the game, before which the Spain boss rejected suggestions he should rest some of his bigger names.
Specifically referencing Gavi before the match, De la Fuente said: “Gavi is hyperactive, he never wants to stop. You just have to watch him train. He always wants to play. Good players never rest. When the leagues end, they play the Euros, World Cups, Olympics… Good players are special for that reason, only those who are very good can sustain that pace. You have to measure those efforts, but Gavi is physically gifted.”
De la Fuente’s words came back to bite him just 26 minutes into the match as Gavi collapsed to the turf in real pain, and it was immediately believed that the 19-year-old midfielder had suffered a serious knee injury.
Reports have suggested Barcelona are furious with De la Fuente for playing Gavi in such an unimportant fixture, with Xavi’s side now losing a key star for what could end up being the entire campaign.
Pressed on his pre-match comments on Gavi after the game, De la Fuente said: “I understand Barca’s complaints, but, if it wasn’t Gavi, it could have happened to someone else.
“This can happen in a La Liga match, in training or in any situation. Sometimes we don’t realise the risk that each moment entails when you put on your boots. It was an accident, a misfortune, but Gavi was perfectly ready to play.”
He added: “Now I’m not even thinking about the Euros, with all due respect, not even the Olympics, only the health of the footballer.”
Gavi’s injury sparks obvious comparisons to the physical struggles of teammate Pedri who, after an aggressive introduction to senior football, has routinely battled muscle injuries since the start of the 2021/22 season.