Barcelona's attempts to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou on loan could be accelerated by news Ousmane Dembele is the latest forward in Ernesto Valverde's squad to suffer injury:
Dembele will see some familiar faces in the treatment room after Barca lost striker Luis Suarez to a calf problem recently. The Uruguay international went down during a 1-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the Blaugrana's opening game in La Liga on Friday.
Valverde was already without Messi, who missed the trip thanks to San Mames thanks to a calf problem of his own, per Matt Maltby of the Daily Mirror.
It means Barca will intensify the search for attacking reinforcements before the summer transfer window in Europe closes. Chief among the options being explored is a loan deal for Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, with ESPN FC's Samuel Marsden and Moises Llorens having reported Barca are readying an offer to take the world's most expensive player on a temporary basis, but with an option to buy at the end of the season.
RMC (h/t Get French Football News) has reported Neymar's representatives have revealed Barca will follow though on a plan to loan Neymar, but it won't be well-received at the Parc des Princes:
Barca may need Neymar because the forward line has been further decimated on a day the Camp Nou club confirmed Philippe Coutinho joined Bayern Munich on loan with an option to buy, per the team's official website.
Marsden and Llorens noted how Barca wanted to offer Coutinho as a means of sweetening Neymar's exit from the French capital and brining down the cost of the deal. The versatile playmaker choosing the Bundesliga comes after Ivan Rakitic also expressed reticence about moving to Ligue 1.
It leaves Barcelona's hopes of a reunion with Neymar resting on the player himself forcing a return amid a desire to quit Les Parisiens. Rumours have circulated throughout the summer Neymar does indeed want out.
Whether a deal can be struck to bring Neymar back to the club with whom he won the UEFA Champions League in 2015, Barca's need more options up front isn't going away.
At the moment, Antoine Griezmann is cutting an isolated and frustrated figure following his €120 million move from La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid. Griezmann has already been challenged by his manager after disappointing against Athletic, with Valverde telling the forward "to get in the game more," per Sport (h/t Sky Sports).
Griezmann needs support to thrive, preferably players around him with the vision and technique to find his perceptive runs off the ball and between the lines. Dembele possesses those qualities, but this latest setback is one more reminder of how disappointing his spell with the Blaugrana has been.
Dembele is set to miss time at the perfect moment to prove he could still make the grade at Barca. Instead, he is more likely to soon be surplus to requirements if the club can find a way to add Neymar to Griezmann and a fit-again Messi and Suarez.