Culers don’t need to have very long memories to recall when the over-reliance on Ansu Fati and Pedri would be the start of their injury problems.
World-beating superstars they may have been when bursting onto the scene, but that doesn’t mean that Barcelona had to work either player to the bone.
Even the best player in history, Lionel Messi, was eased into the first-team over a period of a few seasons.
Not thrown straight in and playing the amount of matches that has contributed to the injury concerns of the aforementioned.
You would therefore have thought that the club would’ve learned their lesson by the time that Lamine Yamal started to carve out a name for himself.
The youngster isn’t 17 until mid-July, and yet he’s arguably already become one of Barca’s ‘go-to’ players this season.
To say that’s irresponsible from the Catalans is a gross understatement.
He already has 32 appearances under his belt for the club in 2023/24, and another four for the national team.
He has also started the last five matches, playing 90 minutes in each.
Xavi does have injuries to contend with it’s true, but it’s a very dangerous game for the club to be playing.
Moreover, what does it say about the squad’s strength in depth when they’re looking to one of the youngest players available to dig them out of a hole each time.
Though there might be a school of thought to suggest that the player himself could pipe up and let it be known that he needs to be introduced into the highly competitive environment of first-team football at a slower pace, but since when have you ever known a 16-year-old to go to their boss and make such demands?! Particularly when that boss is a legend of the club.
Furthermore, give any teenager a ball and he’ll play with it until dark given half a chance. It’s up to the management to identify patterns emerging which could harm the equilibrium of the side and the well-being of the individual.
I’m not even sure we can pin this one on Xavi.
One can imagine that Joan Laporta is sitting somewhere in the depths of the Estadio Lluis Companys trying to work out a way to market ‘the new Messi.’
To put into perspective why placing such a burden on the 16-year-old is bound to end in tears, we only need look at Messi’s early career stats.
In season 2005/06, he played 35 games in total for club and country, one less than Lamine Yamal has already, with 15 games still to play this season.
Messi played 90 minutes on seven occasions across the entirety of that season - again, one less than the 16-year-old has played so far.
The most important point here is that Messi was 18 for the majority of that season, and that’s a world away from being 16 and a half in developmental terms - both physically and mentally.
Barcelona have been warned.