Barcelona are weighing up signing an attacker in January amid fears Luis Suarez could be out for as long as three months, sources have told ESPN.
The Spanish champions confirmed on Saturday that Suarez will have an operation on a persistent knee injury on Sunday, with the forward initially expected to be absent four to six weeks.
However, sources at the club have revealed they believe he could be sidelined for longer than that, which would force Barca to turn to the transfer market in search of January reinforcements.
Suarez, 32, has been managing a meniscus issue for a while and, along with the club, decided to undergo surgery in the hope of being fully fit for the end of the campaign.
Dr. Ramon Cugat, who regularly works with Barca and Manchester City players, will perform the operation this weekend in the Catalan city.
It is the second time in less than a year that Suarez has been forced under the knife. He also had surgery on his knee in May, which meant he missed the Copa del Rey final but was fit for Uruguay’s Copa America campaign.
The striker’s form has not suffered as a result of the injury. He was recently named La Liga’s Player of the Month for December and has either scored or assisted 16 goals in his past 10 games.
But he has decided to seek help now in the hope of being back for the final phase of the season. Barca return to Champions League action when they travel to Italy to face Napoli in the round of 16 at the end of February and they then meet Real Madrid in La Liga on March 1.
If the worst-case scenario is confirmed, though, he would not be available again until April.
In the short-term, Barca will have to do without Suarez for a run of games in La Liga and the Copa del Rey, starting with next weekend’s match against Granada at Camp Nou.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde will likely use either Antoine Griezmann or Lionel Messi through the middle in his absence, with youngsters Carles Perez and Ansu Fati offering options on the wings.
Barca are also missing Ousmane Dembele. The France international is in Qatar recovering from a hamstring problem and is expected back at the beginning of February.
The Blaugrana will return to training Monday after being handed three days off following Thursday’s Spanish Supercopa semifinal defeat against Atletico Madrid in Saudi Arabia.