Barcelona and Spain have suffered a huge injury blow with midfielder Gavi set to miss the rest of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
The teenager left the pitch in tears during the first half of Spain's 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Georgia on Sunday after landing awkwardly as he jumped to control the ball.
Barcelona confirmed on Monday that Gavi will undergo surgery to repair a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee with medical examinations also revealing an injury to his lateral meniscus.
The club said the surgery will take place in the coming days and a new medical update will be released later. It did not give a timetable for the player's recovery, but the injury is expected to stop him from playing again this season.
The recovery time for an injury of that type can be eight to ten months, which rules him out of Barcelona's defence of the La Liga title and their Champions League campaign.
It also makes him a doubt for next summer's Euro 2024 finals in Germany and the Paris Olympics.
Barca currently sit third in the table, two points behind arch-rivals Real Madrid in second and four shy of surprise leaders Girona. Xavi Hernandez's side are currently top of Group H in the Champions League after four games, level on nine points with FC Porto.
The 19-year-old made his first-team debut at the age of 17 in August 2021 and has made 111 appearances, scoring seven goals and providing 12 assists.
This season, Gavi made 15 appearances for Barcelona, 13 of them as a starter. He scored against Villarreal in the Spanish league and against Antwerp in the Champions League.
He has already won 27 caps for Spain, scoring five goals, helping Luis de la Fuente's team finish top of their European Championship qualifying group having won seven and lost one out of eight matches.
Manager De la Fuente described the win over Georgia in Valladolid as the “most bitter victory I have experienced in my life” because of Gavi's injury after just 26 minutes.
“This is the ugly part of football,” he said. “This can happen at any time. It was an accident. It’s a very difficult moment. It’s difficult for him, his club, his teammates, for me and for the federation. We are devastated.”
Defender Robin le Normand, who scored the opening goal, admitted the incident took the shine off a positive end to their qualification campaign.
“We can't celebrate as we would have liked,” said the Real Sociedad centre-back. “Gavi's injury is a hard blow. I'm really gutted”
Gavi's Barcelona teammate Ferran Torres, who held up Gavi's shirt to celebrate his goal in the second half, added: “An important victory to end on a good note, but we leave with a bittersweet feeling.
“We don't know the extent of the injury but, knowing how much of a warrior Gavi is, we think it could be serious.”