Barcelona are sweating on Ousmane Dembele’s fitness ahead of their Champions League last-16 second leg against Napoli at the Camp Nou on August 8.
According to Xavier Munoz at Mundo Deportivo, manager Quique Setien has not given up hope yet of the 23-year-old being fit in time for the visit of Napoli or the quarter-finals if Barca were to make it that far. Indeed the coach is said to be “squeezing” Dembele in the hope that he will be ready in time.
Setien believes Dembele is “vital” to their hopes of landing the European Cup next month in Portugal, and he is expected to join in group training next week when the first-team squad return from a brief break after the end of the league season.
Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Barca Short of Options For UCL?
One of the reasons why Setien is so keen to have Dembele available for the return of the Champions League is that the coach could be short of options for the tie against Napoli.
World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann is currently sidelined with a muscle injury, although there is optimism he will be fit for the Napoli game. Meanwhile, Martin Braithwaite is ineligible because he only arrived in February and is not registered for the competition.
Barcelona will also be without key midfielders Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets for the second leg against Napoli due to suspension, reducing Setien’s options even further.
Setien’s Plan For Dembele
Setien has never hidden his admiration for Dembele. He told Sport in February that he has “tears when I see the capacity and intensity in which he works.”
According to Fernando Polo at Mundo Deportivo, Setien considers him so important because he can play on either flank but is willing to come inside which frees up space for Lionel Messi to work.
Dembele is just as dangerous one either foot, is a brilliant dribbler, and has the skill and speed to cause defences all sorts of problems. Even if he is not able to play the whole 90 minutes he does have the ability to be a game-changer which may prove vital in the Champions League.