Ousmane Dembele’s fitness remains the subject of much debate as the Frenchman bids to return from injury in time for Barcelona’s Champions League campaign.
The forward has returned to first-team training this week which has brought plenty of updates on his current progress. Javi Miguel at AS has reported his recovery is not going quite to plan.
“Dembélé did not have a good feeling in training on Tuesday. It ended with discomfort and the scenario was repeated on Wednesday, so that this Thursday the workload has decreased.”
Miguel adds that it is currently “very difficult” to see Dembele playing for Barcelona if the Catalans make it through to the final stages of the Champions League in Portugal and adds that the club plan to sell the Frenchman or use him in a swap deal if a suitable offer arrives.
However, Marçal Lorente of Sin Concesiones is far more positive on Dembele, reporting that although the forward has been ruled out of Barcelona’s last-16 second leg against Napoli on August 8, the club’s “goal” is to have the Frenchman available for the latter stages of the tournament in Lisbon.
Moises Llorens and Sam Marsden at ESPN have also reported manager Quique Setien is hopeful of having Dembele available should Barca make it past Napoli and secure their place in the quarter-finals.
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The View from Barcelona
Barcelona have offered little detail on Dembele’s progress but have been happy to release footage of the 23-year-old working with the ball in training:
— FC Barcelona (depuis 🏟) (@fcbarcelona_fra) July 30, 2020
The Catalan giants also posted another picture of Dembele in action with the caption “coming back stronger” after Miguel’s report had been published. Coincidence?
Coming back stronger pic.twitter.com/s7CsXUfOoj
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 30, 2020
The conflicting reports mean it’s difficult to know if Dembele will be fit in time to help Barca’s European campaign. Obviously the club will be keen for him to return as soon as possible, but they will also want to err on the side of caution given the forward’s recent injury record.
The youngster has managed 74 appearances for the club since joining from Borussia Dortmund in summer 2017 and hasn’t featured since the Champions League win over his former side in November.
Countdown to Napoli
Barcelona now have just over a week until Napoli are due to visit the Camp Nou, although there are doubts over whether the game will take place in Spain after a surge in Covid-19 cases in Catalunya.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has called on UEFA to switch the match to a neutral venue and said he does not “understand why we must stay in a city that has major problems.”
Dembele is not Barcelona’s only injury concern ahead of the match. Center-back Clement Lenglet is also a doubt with a groin injury but is expected to be fit according to Sport. Yet Barca may have to cope without Antoine Griezmann who is considered “touch and go” for the second leg.