Barcelona coach Xavi slams La Liga’s ‘crazy’ decision to play amid COVID-19 outbreak

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has said he is « crazy » that this weekend’s game against Mallorca continues following a COVID-19 outbreak at the Catalan club.

Barca have 10 confirmed positive cases among their first team and seven other players suspended, injured or doubtful for the game in San Moix.

However, La Liga rules state that matches must be played if clubs have at least five first-team players available and can field a 13-player squad, with at least one goalkeeper, by calling on the team. reserve team.

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« We will look to the B team and go there to win the game, but we’re missing 17 players, » Xavi said at a press conference.

 » I’m worried. It seems crazy to me that [LaLiga] will not suspend it. It makes no sense to play. We are at the limit. Common sense should have prevailed.

“The rules are very strict. Mallorca is in a similar situation, but not as serious. It’s chaotic, but we’ll go for all three points. « 

Sergino Dest, Abde Ezzalzouli, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Gavi, Dani Alves, Clément Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde and Samuel Umtiti all returned positive results earlier this week.

Xavi says Umtiti has since tested negative and could still feature against Mallorca, but Sergio Busquets will certainly miss the game due to suspension.

Martin Braithwaite and Sergi Roberto have been sidelined with injuries and with Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati and Pedri all set to return, Xavi said Sunday’s game « may come too soon » for them.

Despite this, Xavi still has at least nine first-team players available – Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Neto, Ronald Araujo, Eric Garcia, Gerard Pique, Oscar Mingueza, Frenkie de Jong, Riqui Puig and Luuk de Jong – which means the game must move forward.

Team B players Nico Gonzalez, Ferran Jutgla Alvaro Sanz, Arnau Comas, Mika Marmol, Guillem Jaume, Lucas de Vega, Ilias Akhomach and Estanis Pedrola all trained with the first team to top the numbers this week.

Meanwhile, Xavi added that he had not given up hope of tying Dembele to a new deal despite a setback in negotiations this week.

Dembele, 24, is out of contract in June and is now free to talk to other clubs with Barca and their agents still unable to agree on new terms.

“I’m not disappointed,” Xavi said of the situation. “It’s a negotiation. Sometimes advisers and agents can be difficult. But Barca’s position is clear and the process is ongoing.

« I am optimistic and I hope that Ousmane will make an effort [to renew]. He has a fantastic offer. There is always a back and forth. « 

Xavi also confirmed that tying Dembele to a new deal would see Barca register « one or two signings » in January.

By getting the striker to commit to the club, Barca can spread the remaining amortization payments over the transfer fees they paid for him in 2017 over the duration of his new terms, creating a margin in the La Liga spending limit of € 97m for the club. season.

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