Barcelona midfielder Ansu Fati has suffered a set-back in his return from injury, as reports in Spain say it will be April at the earliest before he is back on the pitch at Camp Nou.
The 18-year-old is one of the most highly-rated young wingers in Europe and had started the season with five goals in ten appearances before a knee injury forced him off against Real Betis back in November.
The serious nature of the injury came to light in the hours after the match and it soon became apparent he would have to undergo surgery to amend the issue. That procedure was undertaken later in November, and the initial prognosis was that he would be out for around four months.
As the season wore on, the Champions League second leg with PSG at Parc des Princes on 10 March emerged as a target date, and earlier this week, Barca boss Ronald Koeman expressed a cautious hope that this was on track – though he was reluctant to make any promises.
On Tuesday, he said (per Marca): “Hopefully he can participate [against PSG in France], but I am not sure. The most important thing is that he recovers well but I am not going to set a date.”
Unfortunately, reports that have since come to light suggest that his cautious tone was well measured. SPORT and others say that he was due to return to the training pitch at the start of February, but his recovery is behind schedule, and that has not happened.
Acknowledging that the club do not want to commit to a date that would add pressure to the youngster, the consensus is that he won’t feature again until some time in the middle of April. He is expected to undergo another surgery soon, and could go under the knife for a third time depending on how things progress.
PSG on 10 March, at least, is now viewed as an impossibility, meaning Barca will have to navigate a tricky last 16 tie without one of their best attackers. They go in in decent shape, however – while they are ten points from La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, they remain undefeated in the league in 2021, and have won their last five on the bounce.