Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman made it clear he wants Ousmane Dembele to stay at the club after seeing the Frenchman score a late winner against Real Valladolid on Monday in La Liga.
Dembele struck the only goal of the game at the Camp Nou in the 90th minute to secure a crucial win for the Catalan giants that sees the team close on gap on league leaders Atletico Madrid to just one point.
Koeman was asked about Dembele after the game, with the Frenchman out of contract in 2022, and said he hopes he does decide to renew his contract and stay at the Camp Nou, according to Marca.
“Of course he is an important player, he has shown today with his game and especially with his goal,” he said. “Ousmane’s career this season is very good, physically he has improved a lot, it is the key to his consistency. If it’s up to me, of course, I’d like him to stay with us. ”
Barcelona chiefs are said to be worried about Dembele’s future currently as they expect the forward to receive plenty of offers this summer and know they may have to sell if he does not renew to avoid losing him for free next year.
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Lenglet ‘Not Surprised’ By Dembele
Barcelona defender Clement Lenglet was also asked about Dembele after the final whistle at the Camp Nou. The two players have been away with the French national team over the international break for World Cup qualifying fixtures.
Lenglet was asked if he was surprised by Dembele’s form this season and made it clear just how highly he rates his 23-year-old teammate, as reported by Marca.
“Am I surprised by Dembélé? No. Until now, He hadn’t been able to play much for the injuries,” he said. “When he’s fine physically, he’s a very good player. He gives us a lot and I am very happy for him because he has worked a lot.”
Dembele’s latest goal was his 10th for the season in all competitions for Barca and was arguably his most important. The victory sees the Catalan giants pile real pressure on Atletico in the race for the league title.
Koeman Talks Barcelona Struggles
Koeman also spoke about his team’s struggles against Real Valladolid after the hard-fought win. The hosts had looked set to drop points against the 10 men until Dembele’s late intervention.
The Barca boss admitted his team had not played as well as he would have liked and felt the recent international break was to blame for his team’s sluggish performance.
“We would have liked to play a little better. We have failed in the final third, but this can happen. Until the end we have sought victory and we have achieved it. It was very important to win tonight, we are only one point behind Atlético now and we are above Madrid,” he said. “We play against Real Madrid and these final games will be very exciting. We are at the gates of the title, it was very important to win. Every game is very difficult, everyone wants to play above their level. After the national team break it is very difficult to play at the level we had before.”
Barca now head into another crucial fixture on Saturday against Real Madrid at the Alfredo Di Stefano Stadium. Los Blancos sit just two points behind the Catalans in the table, meaning the result could go a long way to deciding where the title ends up come the end of the season.