Ousmane Dembele has been left out of the Barcelona squad to face Napoli in the Champions League, and coach Quique Setien has explained his decision.
The 23-year-old has had another season blighted by injury as he has been limited to just nine outings all year with a fresh hamstring setback in February ruling him out of the end of the La Liga campaign.
Given the lockdown and the extended period in which he had to recover, it would have been hoped that he would be fit by August to feature in the Champions League.
However, after being left out of the squad to face Napoli, it seems as though the Frenchman isn’t quite ready and Setien explained why he was absent and didn’t make the cut.
“I thought about calling up Dembélé, but unfortunately he has done very little training with the group and we were going to take too great a risk,” he is quoted as saying by Sport. “It was not worth it. What I am sure is that we are going to take him to Lisbon so that he can train with we’ll see if he can play there.”
It remains to be seen if Barcelona even advance to the next round, as their round-of-16 tie with Napoli is finely poised at 1-1 heading into the second leg and so it will be a blow that they don’t have that different dynamic available in the final third with Dembele’s pace and directness giving them a different look in that department.
Instead, they will rely on familiar faces in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann to lead their charge and hope that they make it through to keep their hopes of silverware alive this season.