Ousmane Dembele will miss up to four months after he suffered a thigh injury during Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Getafe on Saturday.
Footage showed the French superstar clutching the back of his leg during the warm-up, suggesting he was hurt before the match, yet he was still included in the starting line-up.
But Dembele lasted less than 30 minutes before he was taken off and Barcelona have since revealed that he faces three-and-a-half to four months on the sidelines.
“Ousmane Dembele traveled on Monday morning to Helsinki, Finland, where he will undergo surgery to repair a rupture of the biceps femoris tendon in his left thigh,” statement on Barcelona’s website read.
Dembele arrived in a £135.5 million deal from Borussia Dortmund in the summer and his setback is severely disappointing.
Yet despite the injury, Barça boss Ernesto Valverde believes they can cope without the 20-year-old.
"We have several players in the team who play that position," Valverde said, per FourFourTwo. "We have [Gerard] Deulofeu, [Aleix] Vidal, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes.
"We have options. We'll look for alternatives to put together a starting XI."
Messi spoke to Deulofeu after he came on
It was Deulofeu who replaced Dembele and the Spaniard figures to start against Eibar on Tuesday.
Deulofeu returned to Barcelona in the summer, so he isn’t short of experience alongside Lionel Messi.
And the Argentinian wasted no time in speaking to Deulofeu upon his introduction against Getafe.
Dembele was playing on the left flank when he came off but Messi wanted Deulofeu to stick to the right wing and to leave the left to Jordi Alba, according to Spanish outlet Sport.
That way, there was nobody to interfere with Messi’s diagonal passes towards the advancing Alba.
With Deulofeu on the right, Barcelona’s right side is better protected and Messi has options on either side. Sport claim the five-time Ballon d’Or winner is comfortable with this system.
So we could see it used more in the future.
Valverde offered his sympathies to Dembele after the youngster’s injury.
"It's the hardest thing for a player," he added.
"If you get injured and are out for long time, you need patience, you need to spend time on your own and look at how things develop.
"Sometimes you don't feel good, but Dembele is a youngster and this is a difficulty he has to deal with in football.
"Everybody in some way has to deal with this and suffer these problems, but you look at the long term. Work hard to make the comeback. We will help him as much as we can."