Barcelona has offered an encouraging injury update on forward Ousmane Dembele who is working his way back to full fitness after undergoing knee surgery in June 2021.
The Catalan giants have shown the France international working out in the gym at the Ciutat Esportiva as he closes in on a return to first-team action. Dembele was initially ruled out for four months, after going under the knife, which means he is due back some time in October.
Coach Ronald Koeman will be keen to have Dembele back to boost his attacking options, particularly after seeing Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann depart the club this summer.
Dembele’s career at Barcelona has been blighted by injuries but the 24-year-old did manage to stay fit for the majoriry of last season, making 44 appearances in all competitions for the club.
The forward is out of contract next summer, and had been linked with a transfer away, but is expected to commit his future to Barca. The Frenchman is expected to sign a new deal that runs until 2025 shortly, according to Marca.
Koeman has already made it clear how highly he rates Dembele. He told reporters in February, “Physically, Ousmane Dembele has improved a lot and I have no doubt about his quality as a player. I don’t know how he was in the past. He’s great, good one against one, and adds a lot of depth to our game. I love this player, and now he’s very happy, which is very nice.”
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Dembele Takes Griezmann’s No. 7
The departure of Griezmann has also meant a number change for Dembele. The forward previously wore the No. 11 at Barcelona but has inherited Griezmann’s No. 7, while youngster Yusuf Demir will take on Dembele’s old number.
The famous No. 7 shirt has had some pretty impressive owners over the years at the Camp Nou. Club legends including Pedro and David Villa have worn the No. 7 as well as iconic strikers such as Henrik Larsson and Eidur Gudjohnsen.
There seems to be no doubt that Dembele has the talent to become a key player for the Catalan giants in 2021-22 but question marks remain over his fitness after his latest lengthy injury lay-off.
Barcelona Facing Some Tough Tests
Barca will want to have Dembele available as soon as possible with some tough fixtures on the horizon. The club’s first game back after the international break is away at Sevilla on September 11 before Bayern Munich visit in the Champions League three days later.
Koeman’s side also has some tricky matches to negotiate in October, particularly in La Liga. Barca kicks off the month with a trip to defending champions Atletico Madrid and also plays host to Valencia and Real Madrid.
Barca has started the season with two wins and a draw from the opening three games but have struggled to impress in the early weeks of the campaign aside from the 4-2 win over Real Sociedad.
The return of injured players such as Dembele, Ansu Fati, and Sergio Aguero will provide Koeman with a boost and will also offer the team more of an attacking threat going forwards.