Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has reacted to the news that Ousmane Dembele might be shipped out by the Catalans this summer.
The 20-year-old arrived in Spain from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for a barbaric £135m transfer fee, but has found himself on the bench this season more often than the field.
As a result, there has been speculation that Liverpool will try and loan Dembele, who is a player Jurgen Klopp admires greatly.
Valverde has played down the reports, but explained that the France international needs to improve off the ball if he’s to progress next season.
“We have to realise he just got here. He’s had some injuries and getting playing time in our team is not easy,” he said, reported in the Star.
“He’s an incredible talent, technically outstanding, he’s quick, a difference-maker.
“Maybe he needs to work on defence a little bit and some other areas. Maybe putting on pressure after we lose the ball.
“But we know he’s young, he’s had a tough season and we hope he will continue to develop next year.”
We don’t really think Dembele is a possibility, in all honesty.
There’s no way Barca will abandon their project on him having invested so heavily less than 12 months ago.
Nabil Fekir on the other hand looks a realistic option, with French journalist Romain Collet-Gaudin stating recently that a deal for the Lyon captain to join Liverpool is all but done.
— Romain Collet-Gaudin (@RomainCG75) May 8, 2018