Ernesto Valverde trusts Coutinho but unsure about Dembele’s future
Barcelona have started the new season with the same goal of winning treble and they’re better equipped this time. They have brought in reinforcement in Arthur Melo, Clement Lenglet, Arturo Vidal, and Malcolm. There is internal switch in Carles Alena from Barca B as well alongside the return of Rafinha and Munir El Haddadi respectively from Inter Milan and Deportivo Alaves after their loan spell. But, coach Ernesto Valverde still has his worries and he wants to fix them as soon as possible.
Valverde’s starting XI against Alaves on opening day of La Liga witnessed him leaving Philippe Coutinho on bench and starting with Ousmane Dembele playing as left-winger. Sergio Roberto usually plays as a right-back in the team but he was deployed as a midfielder alongside Ivan Rakitic and Sergio Busquets.
The message was quite clear. Barcelona boss wanted to give more time to the players whose roles are not sure in the squad and who haven’t done enough to win the trust of their manager. Nelson Semedo is the only certified right-back in Barcelona team, but they are forced to use their utility player Sergi Roberto in that position.
Valverde wants to give Semedo more time early in the league, so that he can win the trust of the manager. It goes same with Ousmane Dembele in the team. There is no doubt about the Frenchman qualities and skills, but he hasn’t matured as a player.
It was witnessed during World Cup when he was rested after giving only one start. The same goes for him in Barcelona lineup. He is quick, good on ball, but he hasn’t developed as a finisher. Against Alaves, he missed many chances. He failed to score as always as he was poor with his final pass.
Valverde told to Barcelona official media as Marca reports, “Dembele has extraordinary skills. We hope he’ll help us a lot, but our very attractive way of playing also requires important defensive concentration and a decisive mentality. He needs to finish the plays, and therefore must get involved in them more. The situation is in his hands, of course, and we have to help him make this happen.”
It’s a clear indication that Dembele still hasn’t adapted to Barcelona game. The coach is patient with him, but unsure about his future at Barcelona. On the other hand, he sees Philippe Coutinho as true Barcelona player and ability to fill in the boots of Andres Iniesta.
Valverde adds, “Like Andres and all the good guys, he can do everything. He has the ability to play in the inside-left position. But he has a slight more offensive profile, and a better goal scoring record.”
Barcelona coach is happy with the prospect of having a player of Coutinho’s stature who can turn the game on his own. He knows if Messi has a poor day, Coutinho can turn the things around. Messi and Coutinho have the same number of (8) goals in their last eight games. His stats for Barcelona after arriving at Camp Nou are overwhelming. He has scored 11 goals and provided 6 assists in 24 appearances.
Valverde is happy to leave Coutinho on the bench and giving more time to Dembele early in the season. He knows Coutinho can turn things around coming off the bench in last 20-30 minutes, but Dembele needs more minutes to adapt into the game.