Barcelona boss Xavi set to test Raphinha in new role after Pedri & De Jong injuries

An insight into the surprise plans of Barcelona head coach Xavi to cover for the incoming absences of star midfield pair Pedri and Frenkie de Jong has this evening been provided.

Both Pedri, and De Jong, of course set alarm bells ringing across the Barcelona fanbase this past weekend.

As much came upon the engine room duo limping out of the Blaugrana’s La Liga meeting with Athletic Club.

En route to an eventual goalless stalemate, Dutch international De Jong departed early on with an ankle problem, before youngster Pedri followed suit clutching his thigh on the stroke of the interval.

Ensuing medical tests on Monday confirmed that the pair have indeed picked up injuries, with both, as a result, expected to be sidelined for at least a month.

The news could not come at a much worse time for Xavi and his staff, ahead of next week’s crunch Champions League Last-16 2nd leg meeting with Italian champions Napoli.

With another key midfield figure – in the form of Gavi – also ruled out long-term, it is safe to say that Barcelona’s headmaster may need to get creative with his options in the middle of the park amid efforts to keep the Catalans’ season alive over the coming weeks.

And, as alluded to above, on Wednesday, an insight into one such option being considered by Xavi has been provided.

As per a report from Diario Sport, over recent days, winger Raphinha has been tested in a more inverted role in training, on the right of a midfield four.

As much would allow for Lamine Yamal to maintain his customary position on the right flank, whilst providing Barca with an extra body in central areas.

Raphinha, in turn, could well be afforded a starting berth in his new-look role on Friday night, when the Blaugrana play host to RCD Mallorca in a La Liga clash.

Conor Laird | GSFN

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