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BARCELONA

Dembélé: Barça star reports a week early for training

The France international has started his pre-season early doing solitary work to get his fitness up to scratch following a hamstring layoff.

Dembélé: Barça star reports a week early for training
FERRAN ZUERAS DIARIO AS

Ousmane Dembélé is eager to start the 2019-20 season on the right foot and has returned to Barça training faclities a week early to shake off the after-effects of a hamstring injury that brought his the previous campaign to an early end.

The France international has been hampered by a series of injuries since joining Barça for a fee of 125 million euros from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and has decided to get to work with fitness coach Edu Pons a week before the scheduled return of the rest of his teammates after the various international tournaments this summer.

In his first season at Camp Nou Dembélé suffered a ruptured tendon at Getafe that ruled him out for four months and last season after a bright start various niggles kept him out of the side as he struggled against his own body and competition from Philippe Coutinho for the berth vacated by Neymar the same summer he arrived in Catalonia.

Dembélé promises "Ousmane 2.0" in 2019-20 season

Off the pitch as well the France international came in for criticism last year when he turned up for training late and apparently the club were also concerned that he was suffering from a “gaming disorder,” an addiction that was keeping him up until the small hours.

But despite these transgressions Ernesto Valverde kept the faith with his winger and has been rewarded with the occasional scintillating performance – a reminder of what Barça laid out so much money for in the first place and further evidence of the club’s expectations from the player, who Josep Maria Bartomeu said during Frenkie de Jong’s presentation he considers to be “better than Neymar.”

And Dembélé is determined to make good on the leeway he has received and has told the Camp Nou technical staff that he will work hard to give the best version of himself in the 2019-20 season.