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Messi: My retirement is approaching, time flies


Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele out for 15 days after suffering sprained ankle

BARCELONA, Spain -- Barcelona have confirmed that Ousmane Dembele sprained his ankle in Sunday's 3-1 win over Leganes and that the forward will be sidelined for around two weeks with the injury.

Dembele opened the scoring against Leganes and produced one of his best performances in a Barca shirt before being forced off midway through the second half. The France international collapsed on the ground under minimal pressure, provoking immediate concern among the home supporters. He eventually got up and was able to gingerly limp around the side of the pitch back to the dressing room.

Speaking postmatch when the full severity of the injury was unknown, Barca coach Ernesto Valverde said: "It's a huge shame, though, because we don't have many replacements [in the squad]. But Ousmane's calm. We hope it's nothing serious. He is an absolutely key player for us."

Dembele, who has now scored 12 goals this season, has seen his short time at Camp Nou hampered by injuries to date. He missed half of last season due to two different hamstring problems after joining from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of €105 million.

However, he had remained injury-free until Sunday in the current campaign and has established himself as one of Barca's best players during the last two months.

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele lies on the ground after sustaining an injury against Leganes.
Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele lies on the ground after sustaining an injury against Leganes.

Ernesto Valverde's side travel to Sevilla on Wednesday for the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal and then play at Girona in La Liga on Sunday.

The second leg against Sevilla will then take place at Camp Nou next week, with Valencia due in Barcelona for their La Liga clash on Feb. 2. Dembele could be ready to return for a Copa del Rey semifinal should Barca get past Sevilla.

Valverde left Lionel Messi on the bench for the visit of Leganes and it was Dembele who really stepped forward in the Argentine's absence. As well as scoring the opening goal, he was a constant menace with his pace and directness.

But, after Martin Braithwaite equalised for the visitors, it was the familiar face of Messi who helped Barca seal the three points.

Meanwhile, Leganes have complained to the Royal Spanish Football Federation about the decision to award Barcelona's second goal.

The goal came in the 72nd minute when keeper Ivan Cuellar parried Lionel Messi's shot and Luis Suarez tapped home. A Video Assistant Referee (VAR) review was used to check for offside, and although there was contact between Suarez and Cuellar, the goal stood.

Leganes have said it should have been disallowed for dangerous play by Barcelona striker Suarez and also felt VAR officials should have told match referee Burgos Bengoetxea to review the incident on a pitch-side TV monitor.

"What really angers me is that you have four people [in the VAR booth] calmly watching on monitors for five minutes and that they say it's a legal goal," midfielder Recio said. "A contact with the goalkeeper in the six-yard box is a foul."

Leganes coach Mauricio Pellegrino said: "You have to see the play and I think once you do, it's very clear. If there is contact inside the area, it's a foul."

But Barca coach Ernesto Valverde told Movistar+: "I saw it on the pitch and it felt like a goal.

"But, of course, what am I going to say? Each one sees it from its point of view. But if the referee has given the goal, it's for a reason.

"There are always going to be different opinions and with VAR the controversy doesn't end, otherwise what would football be like?"


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