5 LaLiga players who could make a return from injury upon league restart
- LaLiga have confirmed that the league is set to return on June 8 under social distancing protocols.
- As the season is now extended, there are several stars whose seasons were effectively over but can now hope for a return.
It was confirmed on Saturday, May 23, that LaLiga Santander is set to return on June 8 after clearance from Spain's Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez. The Spanish top-flight, much like the other top European leagues, has been suspended since late March due to fears over the COVID-19 outbreak.
The likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid have returned to training strictly under the watch of social distancing protocols laid down by health authorities. Similarly, the LaLiga matchday routines will include measures in alignment with the new safety regulations.
The top-flight campaign was at an exciting stage prior to its suspension, with Real Madrid hot on Barcelona's heels at the top of the table. LaLiga's finest and fiercest rivals are separated by just two points, with 11 rounds of fixtures left to play.
Although it could prove to be a strange affair to compete in a stadium with no fans in it, there are a few positive ways to reflect upon the break. The most important one, perhaps, is that of players who have been ruled out of the season being able to compete again.
Here, we take a look at five LaLiga superstars who feared their season was effectively over but are set to return upon the league's restart.
Returning LaLiga stars
Real Madrid's mercurial forward endured a difficult debut campaign in Madrid. Eden Hazard has missed over 30 games for Real Madrid this season due to severe recurring injuries throughout 2019/20. After an impressive return from a hairline crack in the foot in early February, things were beginning to look better for Hazard. However, it took Real Madrid's €100m signing just 13 days to pick up another injury.
Hazard suffered from a fissure of the fibula in Real Madrid's Champions League tie against French champions PSG. The 29-year-old's season was effectively over at that point, given that he would be unable to return at least until May. However, given the extension of the season, the Real Madrid winger has recovered and is available for selection ahead of their next competitive fixture.
Barcelona frontman Luis Suárez has had a history of playing through injury barriers for club and country. The Uruguayan has often faced a lack of an able deputy, leading to him playing week in week out for Barcelona. After 11 goals and seven assists in 17 LaLiga appearances, the Barcelona man met with a horrendous injury in January.
In the Spanish Super Cup semifinal against Atletico Madrid, Suárez injured his external meniscus in his right knee and needed to undergo knee surgery. It was reported at the time that he was set to be on the sidelines until at least May 2020. However, the Barcelona legend is now back in first-team training and will be available for Quique Setién's men as they look to hold their lead at the top of LaLiga.
Valencia hotshot Maxi Gómez was in the midst of a respectable season in his debut campaign for the former LaLiga champions. The Uruguayan was recruited from Celta Vigo for a fee of nearly €15m along with two players moving the other way and was instilled at the tip of the Valencia attack. Having notched up ten goals this term, the South American has been pivotal to Albert Celades' plans.
However, it was announced at the beginning of March that Gómez picked up a fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in a game against Betis. He had to leave at half-time and it was confirmed later that he would require surgery. Having only expected a return to full fitness in by the latter part of April, the extension could undoubtedly help the 23-year-old have a strong finish to the LaLiga season.
7th-placed Valencia really have struggled with injuries this term. A lengthy list of injuries only adds to the instability at the club after the sacking of Spanish manager Marcellino back in September. Argentine veteran Ezequiel Garay, an essential figure in the Valencia backline, and has made 17 appearances for Los Murcelagos this term. That was until he faced a severe injury ending his season prematurely.
Valencia hosted Celta Vigo at the Mestalla in LaLiga early in February, during which Garay ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. The former Real Madrid defender had to undergo surgery and was not expected to return before the end of the season. The Argentine has continued his recovery during the lockdown period and could potentially make a return before the end of the season.
Another South American forward on the list, Osasuna's Chimy Ávila, was in the midst of an impressive season in the LaLiga. The Argentine striker scored nine LaLiga goals with two assists, a tally, which was only behind the likes of Suárez, Lionel Messi, and Karim Benzema at the time.
In Osasuna's 2-0 win against Levante in late January, Ávila suffered a cruciate ligament injury to his right knee, which ruled him out of the season. However, due to the extension of the season, the Argentine forward will now be able to participate in the LaLiga to help 11th-placed Osasuna. It was revealed in early May that he was back in full training with Osasuna and is set for the LaLiga restart.