Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes Ousmane Dembele is going through “the hardest thing” for a footballer after being ruled out for up to four months with a hamstring injury.
The young winger, who only joined Barca last month in a club-record deal, suffered the serious tear in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph over Getafe to leave him on the sidelines for the foreseeable future.
Dembele was making his full LaLiga debut during the contest at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez, but he did not make it until half time, as he attempted a back-heel near the corner flag and felt something in his leg.
Barca confirmed on Sunday that the 20-year-old Frenchman is expected to miss up to four months, meaning he is unlikely to feature again this year and Valverde could only sympathise with him.
“It’s the hardest thing for a player,” Valverde told reporters at his pre-match media conference ahead of Tuesday’s visit of Eibar.
“If you get injured and are out for long time, you need patience, you need to spend time on your own and look at how things develop.
“Sometimes you don’t feel good, but Dembele is a youngster and this is a difficulty he has to deal with in football.
“Everybody in some way has to deal with this and suffer these problems, but you look at the long term. Work hard to make the comeback. We will help him as much as we can.”
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Dembele was reportedly filmed feeling his hamstring during the pre-match warm-up in Madrid, suggesting that there was already an issue before kick-off.
But Valverde is adamant that people are looking into things too much, while also dismissing the idea that Getafe’s pitch – which several Barca officials criticised after the match – had anything to do with Dembele’s injury.
“I don’t think we need to read too much into these things,” he said. “When players warm up they stretch their thighs, their knees.
“He’s a player who has never had muscle problems in the past, so perhaps he doesn’t recognise niggles which can be more aggressive in the long term.
“He’s very fast and the movement he did is the worst you can do for the injury. It’s not normal, but a veteran may have avoided making such an aggressive movement.
“I don’t know, but that movement he made is perhaps part of accumulation of certain circumstances.
“We can’t dwell on the past, we must look ahead. Remember, we’ve a strong team and we’ll get through with the options we have.
“I don’t think the quality of the pitch had any decisive role in that particular incident, but I would like all the pitches to be of a similar condition. That’s good for the game.”
Valverde is at least content about having a number of players who could potentially fill in for Dembele over the coming months.
“We have several players in the team who play that position,” Valverde added. “We have [Gerard] Deulofeu, [Aleix] Vidal, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes.
“We have options. We’ll look for alternatives to put together a starting XI.”
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