Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde has confirmed that Ousmane Dembele will be absent for next week’s Clasico match despite returning to training.
Dembele has been off since he ruptured a tendon against Getafe in September. He was expected to be absent for four months but he has returned to training ahead of schedule. There has been speculation that he would join the team in Real Madrid next weekend but Valverde said that he won’t be back until January.
Speaking at a news conference he said, “He has been doing a lot more with the group this week, but he hasn’t completed a full training session yet. Next week we will increase his workload, but the plan is the same as before. January is when we hope he will come back. It would be premature, risky, even, to bring him back. Our idea at the moment is to leave it until January.”
The team are also without Umtiti and Rafinha due to injury. Both players are back in training but Valverde has said that they will be careful and not rush their return either. Gerard Deulofeu is also out after straining ligaments in his knee in training last week.
Barcelona are leading the league but there will be some pressure on them going into this match. However, despite it being one of the most high-profile games of the season, Valverde said that the players are not feeling any undue pressure.
Meanwhile Gerard Pique has told The Telegraph that it really hurt the team when Neymar left but he could understand the player’s decision.
“Even though it really hurt the club when he left, as a friend I could understand his decision and why he wanted to go to Paris,” Pique said.
“I tried to be fair to him no matter what. As a Barcelona fan it hurts, and I understand that maybe some Barcelona fans are disappointed about how he left.”