Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele needs to make lifestyle changes - sources
Barcelona believe that Ousmane Dembele has a big future at the club but acknowledge the forward needs to make certain lifestyle changes in order to make it at the top level, according to sources.
Dembele has been in the spotlight this week after losing his place in Ernesto Valverde's team to Arthur, with Philippe Coutinho moving further forward. Even the absence of Lionel Messi -- sidelined for three weeks with an arm fracture -- didn't create room in the side for Dembele, with Rafinha starting in place of the Argentina forward against Inter Milan.
The France international did replace Messi when he got injured against Sevilla last Saturday. However, an inconsistent performance saw him jeered by some sections of the Camp Nou crowd.
Asked about Dembele's performance, Valverde gave a brief response after the match, saying the forward still has room to improve.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Dembele continues to have the club's backing and he is not for sale. However, there's an acknowledgement that he needs to make certain changes to make it at the top level, with the sources adding there is a feeling that he isn't completely aware of the lifestyle and professionalism needed to be a Barca player -- a point which Didier Deschamps has also made.
As Valverde has pointed out, though, Dembele is a tremendously talented player and, at 21, the club remain hopeful that he will eventually learn what he needs to do to become a regular in the side.
There were signs earlier this season that he had turned a corner. He scored three goals in his first four games, including winners against Sevilla and Real Valladolid, and started Barca's first nine matches.
But he has played just 40 minutes of Barca's last four fixtures and didn't come on against either Tottenham or Inter in the Champions League -- and not even to warm up against the latter on Wednesday.
Ivan Rakitic, meanwhile, complained after the Sevilla game about the amount of time it took to replace Messi, with Barca forced to play with 10 men for almost 10 minutes as Dembele prepared to come on.
A report in Diario Sport suggested that was one of the reasons why Valverde opted for Rafinha ahead of Dembele against Inter.
Other reports in Spain had also claimed that Dembele turned up 25 minutes late for the Inter game, although sources have denied this.
Meanwhile, an article in El Pais detailed a long charge sheet against Dembele on Friday, with suggestions he's had problems with punctuality and his diet since he signed from Borussia Dortmund last summer for a fee rising to €145 million.