Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Monday that the club wants to “help” French winger Ousmane Dembele realise his potential, after the youngster’s latest disciplinary transgression.
The 21-year-old arrived two hours late for practice on Sunday and had to train alone and is now facing a disciplinary sanction from the La Liga champions.
“Something has happened that we are going to try to resolve internally, in the best possible way to help the player because he has a lot of talent,” Valverde said ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League game against Tottenham.
“What we want is to help him, because he’s young. He has a long career ahead of him, we want to get the best out of him because we know when he feels good he can give us a lot.”
Dembele was also left out of a league match last month against Real Betis after missing training.
But the former Borussia Dortmund man, who was part of France’s World Cup-winning squad in Russia, took his goals tally in La Liga this season to six by scoring in Saturday’s 4-0 derby thrashing of Espanyol, despite having only played 90 minutes four times.
Centre-back Clement Lenglet defended his team-mate and compatriot, saying that his performances on the pitch outweigh any off-field issues.
“I don’t really know what’s going on,” said Lenglet. “But what interests me right now about Ousmane is what he’s doing on the pitch, how he’s helping us, and he’s doing that very well.”
Barcelona have already qualified for the Champions League last 16 as winners of Group B, and Tottenham need to beat them at the Camp Nou to be sure of joining them in the knockout stage.