Barcelona loses Nico, Braithwaite because of health issues

Barcelona's Nico Gonzalez reacts during the Europa League, round of 16, first leg soccer match between FC Barcelona and Galatasaray at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, March 10, 2022. (Joan Monfort/AP)

BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona midfielder Nico Gonzalez and forward Martin Braithwaite have been sidelined because of health issues, the Spanish club said Friday.

Nico fractured a toe on his left foot in practice, while Braithwaite tested positive for COVID-19. The club did not say how long they are expected to be out.

Barcelona has only five games left in the season. Then team is fighting for second place in the Spanish league behind Real Madrid, which is a point away from clinching the title.

Barcelona hosts relegation-threatened Mallorca on Sunday at Camp Nou. It has lost three in a row at home in all competitions, something that had never happened before in the same season.

The Catalan club recently also lost American defender Sergino Dest and playmaker Pedri Gonzalez because of injuries.

The club also made official the contract extension of Uruguay central defender Ronald Araujo, who will stay until 2026. It had announced an agreement with the player on Tuesday.

The 23-year-old Araujo has scored six goals in 78 appearances with Barcelona.

“I never doubted that I would stay and I hope to be here for many more years,” he said. “We reached an agreement in two meetings. We wanted to do our part to help with the situation that the club is in right now.”

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