COVID outbreaks at Madrid, Barca; Arsenal’s Arteta positive

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele controls the ball during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Elche at the Camp Nou stadium, in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Eleven players across the Barcelona and Real Madrid squads were isolating Wednesday after contracting the coronavirus ahead of the resumption of the Spanish league this weekend.

Barcelona players Ousmane Dembélé, Samuel Umtiti and Gavi have COVID-19, the team said Wednesday, after Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde, Clement Lenglet and Dani Alves were announced earlier this week as having tested positive.

It is a further setback for Barcelona going into Sunday’s match at Mallorca in seventh place with the team also depleted by injuries.

“The players are in good health and self-isolating at home,” Barcelona said.

Real Madrid, which leads the league by eight points, said Wednesday that Thibaut Courtois, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Vinicius Jr. tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Sunday’s game against Getafe.

The Spanish league has been on a planned break of nearly two weeks.

In Britain, the Premier League has resisted calls to pause the season to try to stop the spread of coronavirus cases that have now led to 16 games being postponed in less than three weeks due to teams lacking healthy players.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta will be absent for the match against Manchester City on New Year’s Day after testing positive for a second time, the club said Wednesday.

Arteta’s positive test in March 2020 was a key factor in the suspension of the league in the first week of the pandemic.

Arteta is the third Premier League manager currently isolating after contracting COVID-19, after Crystal Palace’s Patrick Vieira and Aston Villa’s Steven Gerrard.

“Mikel is isolating in line with government guidelines and we wish him well,” Arsenal said.

Arteta was previously the assistant coach at City.