Ernesto Valverde Expects 'Lots More' from Ousmane Dembele After Atletico Goal

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2018

Barcelona's coach Ernesto Valverde (R) talks to Barcelona's French forward Ousmane Dembele during the Spanish Liga football match Barcelona vs Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on September 9, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE        (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
AFP Contributor/Getty Images

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has said he expects "lots more" from Ousmane Dembele after his dramatic equaliser in the 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

Atletico led after Diego Costa's opening goal and appeared set to jump above the Blaugrana in the La Liga table. However, Dembele came off the bench to rescue a point for Barca and ensure they remain top heading into Sunday's fixtures.

The French winger has been a hot topic recently following some reports of poor application off the field, and following this key contribution, Valverde said he wants to see the player setting higher standards, per Football Espana.

“Dembele is a great player. He has a lot of things, including goals.  A team must have specialists for everything. Our wingers must take risks, play with enthusiasm and show a willingness to defend. Dembele has confidence, plays with both feet and gives security.

"There are times when he’s on everyone’s lips, but we hope he can give us many things. Whether he has more minutes or not depends on him and what he shows in training. 

"It’s true that he wasn’t called up to our last game, but we have to help him succeed. He did that today and we expect lots more from him because he’s a very talented player."

Barcelona's French forward Ousmane Dembele (R) celebrates with Barcelona's Uruguayan forward Luis Suarez after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in M

Before the international break, it was reported by RAC1 (h/t Sport) that Dembele didn't report for training, and it took club doctors 90 minutes to contact him. France boss Didier Deschamps then said the youngster has "a habit of being late," per Marca.

In Barca's previous La Liga fixture—the 4-3 loss to Real Betis—Dembele was left out of the squad entirely. Valverde will be thankful he was involved here, though, as the winger continued a trend of making big contributions, per Sid Lowe of the Guardian:

Sid Lowe @sidlowe

For all the issues, he’s scored FIVE massive, decisive, result-changing goals this season. Dembele.

OptaJose noted that without Dembele, the Blaugrana's position in the table would be a whole lot worse:

OptaJose @OptaJose

7 - No other player has won more points with his goals than Ousmane Dembélé in La Liga this season (seven points with five goals). Rescuer. https://t.co/36QgTjg6IF

Barcelona spent big money to sign the youngster from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017, and while things haven't gone well for him at times, there's no disputing the quality he possesses.

Dembele's searing speed, close control and inventiveness in the final third give Barcelona a completely different edge in their play. If he can find some consistency in his game, then all the attributes are there for the Frenchman to become a first-team regular at the Camp Nou for years to come.

The challenge now for Barcelona is getting him to reach those levels regularly, and after yet another late salvo, Valverde faces a conundrum as to how to get him into the side. One suspects Dembele will get a big opportunity to impress against PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.