Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele to make comeback at Celta Vigo
Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele to make comeback at Celta Vigo

Barcelona's record signing Ousmane Dembele could return from a four-month injury lay-off against Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey but coach Ernesto Valverde will be without star forwards Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

France international Dembele, bought from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of around £97million during the summer, injured a hamstring in just his third appearance for Barca and has been sidelined since mid-September.

Coach Valverde has named the 20-year-old forward in his squad to face Celta in the first leg of the last 16 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday, although Messi and Suarez will not travel to the Balaidos after recently returning from Christmas breaks in their native South America.

Speaking about Dembele at his pre-match press conference, Valverde said: 'Recovering Ousmane is very positive for us.



'He was injured when he was adapting, he is an important player, we have him for this month of January.

'We always want, in situations of these, that there is a small pre-season, but in competition that is not possible, it is what we have and we will have to adapt.'

Along with Argentinian Messi and Uruguayan Suarez, Valverde has also omitted captain Andres Iniesta and injured defender Samuel Umtiti from his squad.

Explaining his selection, Valverde added: 'They arrived [on Tuesday] because they are further away from their families (in South America). I do not intend to risk anything with any injury.'

Barcelona went into the winter break on the back of a morale-boosting 3-0 win at bitter rivals Real Madrid which gave them a nine-point lead over second-placed Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

They have lifted the Spanish cup for the past three seasons. Valverde insists it is an important competition and believes his side have been handed one of the more difficult ties, which concludes with the second leg at the Nou Camp on January 11.

'When you lose the cup, you give it value, and Barca has won it three times in a row,' he added.

'I think it's an enthusiasm for the fans, the finals always motivate us, now we're a long way from it, but our intention is to keep moving forward.'


Speaking about opponents Celta, who have won their previous two home matches against Barca and secured a 2-2 away draw against them in early December, Valverde added: 'They're an aggressive team that will put us under a lot of pressure.

We have a lot of respect for them because of the trouble they caused us at the Camp Nou in the league and they will be battling hard to qualify too.

'It's one of the hardest teams we could have been drawn against because they play well as a team and generate a lot of pressure.

'The games played in previous seasons are a reference for us, but less so because they didn't have the same coach then.'

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