Barca Nepal, March 10. He arrived at the end of August to cover the traumatic absence of Neymar. But fortune has not accompanied Ousmane Dembele in his first few months as a Barcelona player. The high price that was paid for him, the lack of a preseason and muscle injuries have prevented the club’s fans being able to enjoy the performances he offered at Borussia Dortmund.
Dembele’s only played a handful of games and when he’s played he hasn’t been able to do a lot. On Saturday night, at La Rosaleda, against La Liga basement side Malaga, he has another chance to impress. The absence of Lionel Messi, who has become a father for the third time, could see Ernesto Valverde bring the France forward back into the starting lineup to accompany Luis Suarez.
Until now, Dembele has not shone but the weakness of Malaga could allow him to show what he’s capable of in attack and maybe even score his first goal for his new club.
Dembele’s not the only option available to Valverde to replace Messi. But he’s the most logical and the most natural. The 20-year-old is a player that needs an opportunity and to leave him on the bench in Malaga would be a blow for the player.
The other two alternatives are Paco Alcacer and Aleix Vidal. The first has played on occasions on the right flank but he hasn’t featured much in recent weeks. Vidal has been handed plenty of starts in recent weeks and has done OK, setting up goals and working hard.
Whoever it is that replaces Messi, the only thing we know is that Barça will miss the Argentine international.