Morocco forward Amine Harit is all but certain to miss the World Cup after suffering a knee ligament injury in his last club match prior to joining his national camp for the finals in Qatar.
Named in the World Cup squad last week, Harit was stretchered off the pitch just before the hour during Marseille’s 3-2 win at Monaco in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
He lay on the pitch for several minutes while Marseille medical staff assessed the problem, before holding his head with both hands as he was carried off.
Marseille coach Igor Tudor, who had described the injury as ‘very big’ after the game, said it was a “very sad” development after he had spent the week talking to the 25-year-old about the World Cup.
“Amine Harit is suffering from a sprained cruciate ligament in his left knee,” Marseille announced in a statement on Monday.
“Medical examinations are in progress to offer him the care adapted to his injury. The player will follow an appropriate care protocol.
“Olympique de Marseille wishes Amine a speedy recovery and hopes to see him on the pitch as soon as possible.”
Before this weekend’s final round of league matches ahead of the World Cup, global players’ union Fifpro had complained about the burden being put on players – with Harit’s injury adding to a growing number of enforced absentees.
In the past, World Cups have come after many Europe-based players have had longer rest periods following the closure of their seasons some 2-3 weeks before the finals.
“In the biggest markets where you have players who play basically all the time, this is the number one topic for many players that they see really impacting their careers,” said Fifpro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann.
“There is a lot of concern.”
Former France youth international Harit has played 16 times for his country, including at the last World Cup in Russia where Morocco exited in the group stages.
Under Fifa rules, Morocco coach Walid Regragui has up to 24 hours before the first match to replace a player unable to compete due to injury or coronavirus.
Harit’s injury potentially opens the door for former Spain international Munir El Haddadi, who was overlooked last week despite years of effort to represent Morocco at the highest level.
Morocco kick off their World Cup against 2018 runners-up Croatia on 23 November in Group F before facing Belgium four days later and Canada on 1 December.