‘I will stay and prove my­self at Barca’

The Punch - - SPORTS -

USMANE Dem­bele does not fear fierce com­pe­ti­tion for places at Barcelona and will stay at the club to prove his abil­ity af­ter a dif­fi­cult first sea­son, the for­ward has told Tele­foot.

A left thigh in­jury side­lined Dem­bele for three-and-ahalf months in the first half of the cam­paign, just weeks af­ter mov­ing from Borus­sia Dort­mund in a deal worth up to €147 mil­lion, and a prob­lem with the same mus­cle saw him ruled out again af­ter the turn of the year.

Since re­turn­ing to fit­ness, the France in­ter­na­tional has strug­gled to es­tab­lish him­self in Ernesto Valverde’s start­ing XI.

Just seven of his 12 La Liga ap­pear­ances this sea­son have been starts, while the 20-year-old has started on the bench for three of his team’s last four com­pet­i­tive out­ings, in­clud­ing both legs of the Champions League quar­ter­fi­nal exit at the hands of Roma.

“I signed a five-year con­tract at Barcelona. I’m go­ing to be in Barcelona a very long time. I’m not go­ing to leave af­ter a sea­son,” he said, adding that he re­mains short of peak phys­i­cal fit­ness.

“I’m not in my best form, but lit­tle by lit­tle, it’s com­ing back. I still have to work on my car­dio be­cause I get tired very quickly.”

•Dem­bele

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