Uruguay have confirmed Barcelona forward Luis Suarez has suffered a knee injury that will rule him out for up to five weeks – deepening his club's current woes ahead of the new La Liga campaign.
Barcelona suffered a 2-0 defeat to Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday (16 August), a 5-1 loss on aggregate that highlighted a growing gap in quality between the two arch-rivals.
Ernesto Valverde was handed two further blows with both Suarez and defender Gerard Pique picking up knocks in the second-half, with the club confirming post-match the former Liverpool forward had "finished the game with a knee problem."
Suarez appeared to pick up the injury while stretching to bring down a loose ball and was scheduled to undergo a scan ahead of Sunday's La Liga opener against Real Betis.
The Uruguayan Football Association (AUF) now say Barcelona have confirmed to them an expected rehabilitation period of "four to five weeks", ruling him out of World Cup qualifiers against Argentina and Paraguay.
The knock could rule Suarez out of Barcelona's first six matches of the new campaign against Betis, Alaves, Espanyol, Getafe and Eibar in addition to their opening group match of the Champions League.
Barcelona have a slight hope however their number nine could be back for the first fixture following September's international break against Getafe on 16 September. The club specify the 30-year-old has a "distension in the posterior articular capsule in his right knee."
His absence comes at a critical time with the club still reeling from the loss of Neymar, who left the Nou Camp to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee of €222m.
Barcelona are hopeful of bringing in Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele to help fill the void left by the Brazilian but with no agreements in place yet, the club look dreadfully short of match-winning talent just three days before the start of the new season.
The club's general manager Pep Segura's did however suggest post-match on Wednesday that deals for both players are "close."
Barcelona have also confirmed Pique has suffered a groin strain having undergone a scan on Thursday. The club are yet to decide whether the Spain international will be available for the visit of Betis on Sunday.