Dembélé working harder than anyone at Barcelona
The striker was the only player to turn up from Monday to Friday last week at Barça's Ciudad Deportiva as he looks to start at Old Trafford.
Barcelona's training facilities had three main attendees last week during the international break: Rafinha, Luis Suárez and Dembélé. However only the French striker was there full-time every single day, with both Rafinha and Luis Suárez taking at least a day off. Dembélé though worked right through to Friday, before heading home for the weekend to rest before being back at training on Monday.
Dembélé taking recovery extremely seriously
Dembélé is all too aware of the work he needs to do if he wants to be 100% fit for the upcoming Champions League match at Old Trafford, and he's determined to be there. Together with physiotherapist Xavi Linde he's been undergoing marathon sessions to try and reduce his recovery time. The club's official statement, released on 14 March, spoke of three to four weeks out, but Dembélé is desperate to ensure it's three and not four.
His main obstacle is the type of injury: a hamstring tear in his left leg. And it needs to heal properly to ensure a player can change pace at the drop of a hat and in particular sprint at top speed - fundamental skills for a player of the nature of Dembélé. The fact he was out for four months with the same injury last season too means the Barcelona medical staff are urging prudence in the face of running any risk.
However Dembélé has drawn up a clear route map as he bids to get fit and he's happy to face the consequences: play a limited number of minutes against Atlético Madrid at the Camp Nou on 6 April to test the hamstring out before taking the definitive step four days later at Old Trafford against Manchester United.
Right now he's feeling good, and if things proceed as planned he could well be given the green light by the medical team in two weeks time. Valverde wants to be able to count on him for the sharp end of the season and the player has won the trust of his coach thanks to his clear change of attitude and the professionalism he's now showing to his club and his own career.