Xavi Hernandez reiterated that he is not willing to force Ansu Fati’s return to the starting line-up and risk a potential injury setback.
Barcelona are being cautious with their prodigious forward, who has played seven games off the bench and has yet to be included in the starting line-up thus far.
“He is fine,” Xavi told the pre-match press conference ahead of Saturday’s game with Elche.
“We are following a very cautious plan. These feelings he had are costing him a bit, but we’re doing well.
“In San Sebastian, he made the difference and he’ll begin to be [included in the starting XI]. He has to be an important player for us.
“We have to step up the pace, but little by little. It’s a difficult situation to manage because he hasn’t played for a long time and the rhythm and intensity requires time but also prudence and caution.
“Last year we were too quick [to bring him back] and he suffered a setback, but he will [start again]. I like him and it motivates me that he is in the XI. It’s not a mental issue.
“He’s doing well. I spoke to him seven or eight days ago. I told him where we were at and got him talking. I have regular meetings with the players.
“We are very close to everyone, but especially Ansu because he is a special case. Injury forgotten, he’s at 100 percent and it depends on how we see him and the competition he has.”
Barcelona could head to the international break topping the LaLiga Santander table should they win on Saturday and Real Madrid drop points away at Atletico Madrid, but Xavi maintains that he is focused on the game with Elche.
“We have to win tomorrow and then we will see the other results,” Xavi added.
“We are always looking at LaLiga [results] and even more so for the Madrid derby. But we are focused on winning.
“First, we have to focus on what’s important for us and then we’ll look at the standings. First, we have to win the three points.
“We are expecting a similar opponent to Cadiz. Elche made it difficult for us last season with the same coach.
“They’re in a hurry, they’re at the bottom of the table, they’re very physical. We don’t know their system because they’re very versatile.”
Xavi went on to express his joy about the fact that Barcelona prodigy Gavi has put pen to paper on a contract extension.
“It’s great news, the most important of the week,” Xavi noted.
“He is a player of the present and the future. He is a leader, despite his age. He has character, passion. He is a heart with legs.
“He has intensity, he is able to play however you want, in different positions. He has matured, he understands time very well, he plays more fluidly.”