Ansu Fati's return to action for Barcelona has been delayed again - and the young Spaniard may now have to wait until mid-October before he is medically cleared.
The 18-year-old has endured a nightmare year with injury, undergoing surgery three times in a bid to clear up a troublesome meniscus problem first picked up in November 2020.
Before that night against Real Betis, Fati had quickly established himself as one of the most highly-rated young wingers in Europe, and had started the 2020/21 season with five goals in ten appearances.
But after leaving the field against Betis, the severity of his injury soon became apparent and it was decided he'd go under the knife to amend the issue. The surgical procedure was completed later on November and the initial prognosis was that he would be out for around four months.
Fati has suffered countless setbacks since then - including a nasty knee infection which delayed his progress even further - and after a second operation failed to ease the pain, it was decided that the teenager would need a third - removing the meniscus in his knee entirely.
Fati has been rehabilitating since and was forced to miss out on a maiden appearance at the European Championships with Spain. He was then targeted with a return to full pre-season training, but a July report in his homeland revealed that his recovery was again not following the anticipated timeline.
He was tentatively earmarked to return after the summer international break, potentially against Sevilla on 12 September, but that will unfortunately not happen either.
Leading Spanish publication AS report that mid-October is now more likely, with the game against Valencia on 17 October his new target. Fati will miss La Liga and Champions League games against Sevilla, Bayern, Granada, Cadiz, Levante, Benfica and Atletico Madrid as a result, and will have been out for close to a year by the time October comes around.
Prior to his injury, Fati had been an integral part of Barcelona's side despite his tender years. He then watched on from the sidelines as Lionel Messi fought tooth and nail to get the Catalan giants back into La Liga's title race, but Atletico Madrid ultimately came out on top at the season's end.
Once he returns to action, Fati will line up without Messi - who has now left the club to join PSG because of Barcelona's dire financial situation.