Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has thrown a challenge at Ousmane Dembele to fight to earn his place in the first team. The ongoing season has been frustrating thus far for the French forward due to recurring injury problems.
The Frenchman was also sent off in the 4 nil win against Sevilla and this resulted in a two-game ban. Dembele is available again but was not part of the team that lost 3:1 to Levante in the La Liga.
Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League game against Slavia Prague at the Camp Nou, Valverde insisted that the 22-year-old must work had to get chances in the team.
“Everyone always has to earn their place—Dembele is no exception,” said Valverde.
“When he plays, he can stay in that position [if he plays well], as happens to Ansu [Fati], Luis [Suarez], [Antoine] Griezmann or [Gerard] Pique. When you have your chance, you will have to try to stay [in the team].”
The Catalans were lethargic in the opposition areas on Saturday alongside a very poor defensive display, barring the fact that Estadi Ciutat de Valencia has been a bogey ground for Valverde’s men in recent times.
It can be recalled that Dembele was heavily linked with a departure from Barcelona in the summer with reports suggesting that he would be involved in a deal that could see Neymar return to Barcelona. However, the transfer didn’t materialize.
Dembele now has to put in extra effort especially with the arrival of Antoine Griezmann, alongside the emergence of Ansu Fati this term.
Thus far, the Frenchman has made five appearances for Barcelona this season and has 1 goal, no assists, and a red card to his name. He has been average at best.
Meanwhile, injuries have also hampered the player’s progress since he joined Barcelona in 2017. He has spent more time on the sidelines than on the pitch. He has played 2881 minutes out of a possible 7920 minutes in the La Liga since he joined Barcelona.