Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde challenged Ousmane Dembele to continue to make an impact after the France international impressed in Sunday’s 2-0 win over Villarreal.
Dembele started the first nine games of the season but has been in and out of the team since he was dropped for the trip to Tottenham in the Champions League at the beginning of October.
However, the 21-year-old has been in good form of late. He scored a late equaliser at Atletico Madrid to earn Barcelona a point, set up Lionel Messi’s goal against PSV Eindhoven in midweek and his cross created Gerard Pique’s opening goal against Villarreal.
“Dembele produced a great performance,” Valverde told a news conference after the game.
“He was one of the players that stood out. He has so many things to his game: pace, he can dribble, beat players, self-confidence, he takes risks. We hope he can keep showing that in the coming games.
“But this has been coming, it’s not an isolated (performance). But we can also ask for more. He ended the game tired after the effort he put in and we’re really happy with him.”
Barcelona’s victory against Villarreal was sealed three minutes from time by youngster Carles Alena. The B-team midfielder scored with a lovely lobbed finish after being put in on goal by Messi’s through-ball.
“It is a reward for Alena because he’s a player that’s always (training) with us. He’s earned the jump from the second team to the first team,” said Valverde.
Villarreal coach Javi Calleja thought winger Samuel Chukwueze acquitted himself well at the Nou Camp and praised the 19-year-old for his performance.
“Samu had a great match. He is growing. He is a more and more important player. He is young and confident, he’ll end up learning a lot,” said Calleja at the post-match press conference.
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