Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman was full of praise for Ousmane Dembele ahead of Saturday’s La Liga clash with Granada and also offered some words of advice to misfiring striker Antoine Griezmann.
The Catalan giants head to Los Carmenes aiming to extend their seven-game unbeaten run in La Liga. The match could see Dembele make his third start in a row, after recovering from injury, and Koeman was happy to talk about the 23-year-old in his pre-match press conference.
He’s been here many years and has had a lot of bad luck with injuries. It’s been tough because he recovered and then got injured again and hasn’t spent time just playing. It’s tough for a player to be at their level in those conditions.
I see him good physically, he’s happy, he’s got confidence, I like him as a player, he has different things to Griezmann, Trincao or Leo. He’s excellent in one-on-one situations and can play with both feet. I hope he continues to play up to his level but especially that he’s going to be in good shape and fit to play a lot of games.
Dembele has endured an injury-plagued time at Barcelona since joining from Dortmund in 2017 but has made 15 appearances in all competitions already in 2020-21. Barca will be hoping the 23-year-old can finally stay fit and fulfil his potential at the Camp Nou.
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Koeman Talks Griezmann
Koeman also offered his thoughts on Griezmann who is suffering a goal drought. The Frenchman has only scored five times this season for Barcelona and has not found the back of the net in La Liga since November.
Griezmann was back in the starting XI for Wednesday’s win over Athletic, putting in an improved performance and bagging an assist when he teed up Lionel Messi’s for Barcelona’s third goal.
Yet Koeman admits the World Cup winner badly needs a goal to boost confidence.
Every player needs confidence in themselves, with their team-mates and the position they are playing. It all starts with the player himself. I can talk to him, show him images and how to improve but he has to use his skills and help the team be clinical. It’s not just a question of his hard work. He recovered a lot of balls the other day and he had an assist for Leo. But he needs to score because scoring is the best medicine to improve one’s self-confidence.
It’s not clear yet if Griezmann will keep his place in the starting XI for Saturday’s match if or Koeman will go with Martin Braithwaite instead in attack.
Barca’s ‘New Pogba’ to Get Call Up?
Indeed Koeman’s squad list for the match should match for interesting reading. The Dutch coach hinted that 17-year-old midfielder Ilaix Moriba, who has been likened to Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, could get his first call up to the senior squad.
We know that Alena has gone on loan to Getafe and so we need an extra player. Ilaix Moriba was with us in pre-season, he’s played for Barca B, he’s trained with the first team so there is the possibility that he will be on the squad list for tomorrow.
Moriba is widely considered to be one of the gems of Barcelona’s La Masia academy and could be set to benefit from Carles Alena’s decision to join Getafe this week on loan in order to play more regularly.