BARCELONA

Barcelona medical staff are losing patience with Dembélé

The club is worried that the French winger hasn't learned how to listen to his own body and pick up on warning signs which could help him prevent injuries.

Ousmane Dembélé never seems to learn - or at least that is the conclusion which coaching and medical staff at Barcelona have come to after the player succumbed to the latest in a long line of injuries. His latest injury occurred in the meeting with Cádiz on 5 December. The French forward came on after the break, replacing Coutinho, but after being on the pitch for just a few minutes, Dembélé noticed twinges to his right hamstring. As soon as those on the bench realised that something was not right they immediately asked the player if he was able to continue. Dembélé spent the next few minutes seeing how his muscle responded before signalling to come off, although by that stage, he was hardly able to get past an opponent.

The following day, tests confirmed that he had an elongated right hamstring - with rumours that he could even have suffered a small muscle tear although the club has not given an estimate of how long he will face on the sidelines. According to some sources, from the player's close circle, Dembélé will be out for two to three weeks.

Whatever the true scale of the injury might be, club medical staff feel that Dembélé made a mistake in delaying his decision to come off as it possibly could have saved him from aggravating his injury and reduced his recovery time. Ronald Koeman hasn't set a date for when Dembélé might be able to return to first team action, limiting his response to saying that the player is training apart.

The problem is that Dembélé doesn't seem to be able to listen to what his own body is telling him. This latest setback is less serious than the one he suffered last season in the opening game against Athletic Club. On that occasion, not only did he suffer an injury and failed to notify the bench, he completed the full 90 minutes then failed to turn up for the routine tests the following day - coming up with the excuse that he had other commitments to attend to. He was back training two days later but had to retire from the warm-up after experiencing pain to his left hamstring. Tests detected a tear which kept him sidelined for the next five weeks. Needless to say, the coach, Ernesto Valverde, was absolutely furious.

This time, Dembélé's injury is less serious and hopefully he will be able to return to training within the next few days, but for Barca's coaching staff it is frustrating that, however much they insist, the player either won't tell them or doesn't know when he might have some kind of fitness issue.