Barcelona don't want to take any risk with Ousmane Dembele or rush the Frenchman back into action. The French winger has a pubis problem that's prevented him being at 100 percent in recent weeks. He only played the final few minutes of the Copa del Rey final and sat out the win against Getafe on Thursday. However, on Friday he took part in part of Barca's training session ahead of the visit to Villarreal on Sunday.
Dembele's injury history invited caution. While it's true the ex-Borussia Dortmund forward has taken a step forward this season, fitness issues have impeded him throughout his four years at Camp Nou. He has finally consolidated himself in the team and is performing consistently, but the club are aware the most important thing is that he recovers properly to avoid any problems further down the line.
As SPORT first revealed, the club's medical staff drew up a special training plan for him for April. In addition, away from the training ground, he has a personal trainer at home, Salah Ghaidi. At first, the pain didn't prevent him from playing. In fact, he scored the late winner in the 1-0 win over Real Valladolid. But the pain didn't disappear and Ronald Koeman didn't start him against Athletic in the cup final and rested him vs. Getafe.
On Thursday, Koeman said he hopes Dembele will be available for Villarreal, although Martin Braithwaite is out. Keeping in mind those comments, the importance of the game -- one of seven 'finals' to win the league and secure a domestic double -- the most logical thing is that Dembele at least travels for the game. However, it will be his sensations in training on Saturday that dictate whether he plays or not.
NEW FC BARCELONA PODCAST IN ENGLISH