Barcelona

Dembélé injury places onus on Messi, Griezmann to stay fit

The France forward has been ruled out for the season, leaving Quique Setién very short of attacking options for the remainder of the campaign.

Injury-plagued Dembele leaves Barcelona in dire straits

Ousmane Dembélé's Barcelona career was dealt another setback on Tuesday when it was announced the 22-year-old France international has sustained a complete proximal hamstring tear in his right leg and it is reported he will sit out the rest of the season. That leaves Quique Setién with a serious issue in attack with Leo Messi and Antoine Griezmann his only senior forwards

Dembélé has been plagued by injuries since arriving at Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105million in August 2017, playing just 31.4 per cent of the minutes available to him.

The latest injury came as he stepped up his return from a right hamstring problem that has sidelined him since November. 

The numbers

In total, injury problems have forced Dembele to miss 59 matches for the Catalan giants. That is equivalent to 40.4 per cent of the games Barça have played in LaLiga, the Copa del Rey, the Champions League and the Supercopa de Espana since his arrival.

Based on his transfer fee alone, he has cost the club a whopping €1.4million per match

The problem

Luis Suárez is out until May after undergoing knee surgery. Carles Pérez was allowed to join Roma on loan with an option, that could become an obligation, to buy. Abel Ruiz will spend the rest of the season at Braga and then complete an €8m transfer there. Francisco Trincão will not arrive from Braga in a €31m switch until the end of the campaign. Barca reportedly pulled the plug on a loan deal for former Villarreal striker Cédric Bakambu before the transfer deadline.

With Dembélé set to miss a significant period of time, Barça are hamstrung in the attacking department and it is a mess of their own making.

Head coach Quique Setién had been counting on Dembélé's seemingly imminent return to bolster his attacking options after the club failed to bring a new forward in during the January transfer window.

"The transfer market did not give us anything, but we will also recover Dembélé," Setien said following a 5-0 victory over Leganes in the Copa del Rey last week.

"He is a player who has specific attributes and I think he can give us a lot. He feels comfortable out wide and we will try to take advantage of that.

"I'm sure he will give us a lot with the potential he has and will demonstrate the great player he is. Dembélé is going to be amazing." 

The solution?

Barcelona have instead looked to their B team to improve their depth, with Kike Saverio and Rey Manaj added to their Champions League squad for the rest of the campaign.

Ecuador-born striker Saverio won the UEFA Youth League in 2017-18 and is strong on both feet but has only scored four goals in 34 appearances for Barca B.

Former Inter attacker Manaj joined the second string for an initial €700,000 from second-tier side Albacete in January. He scored his first goal for the club a 2-1 win over Prat on Sunday, but his second outing ended before half-time as he was sent off for two bookable offences.

Although Ansu Fati notched a double in the 2-1 victory over Levante on Sunday, it has been reported Barca will look to sign a free agent from outside Spain as emergency cover with former Villarreal striker Cédric Bakambu top of the list.

Regardless of their next move, Barca will be at a significant disadvantage as they seek to retain their LaLiga title and push on in the latter stages of the Champions League.