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Valverde: Dembele inexperience led to tear

Ernesto Valverde has said the injury that has sidelined record Barcelona signing Ousmane Dembele for the next four months could have been partially caused by inexperience.

Dembele, 20, flew to Helsinki, Finland, on Monday to be operated on by specialist doctor Sakari Orava after rupturing a tendon in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Getafe.

Footage has since indicated that the France international appeared to have a slight problem in the warm-up.

But Valverde said: “I don’t think we should read too much into things like that.

“But he’s a player who has never had muscle problems in the past, so perhaps he doesn’t have the experience to recognise problems which could become worse.

“Because he’s a fast player, it’s the movement he made which was the worst thing for the muscle. Maybe a more experienced player would have known not to make that movement.”

Dembele was making only his third appearance for Barcelona since joining from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of €105 million, which could rise to €145m with add-ons.

However, his fourth appearance is unlikely to come in until the New Year, though club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Barcelona will make do without him until then.

“January and February is when the important games begin,” Bartomeu told TVE on Monday night.

“He will be back when we need him.

“I have spoken with him, he’s affected, but that’s normal. He is also optimistic and he told me he knows everything will be OK, though, and that he’s in good hands. By Wednesday or Thursday he will be back in Barcelona.”

Meanwhile, Valverde will have to make alternative plans as he prepares to take on Eibar at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.

“There are several players that can play that position,” the manager said.

“We have [Gerard] Deulofeu, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez, Andre Gomes… There’s also the B team. We will look for alternatives to put together a side.”

Rafinha is also missing through injury with Valverde unable to confirm when the midfielder would be fit to return to training, having been sidelined since April with a knee problem.

Apart from that, Barca have a fully fit squad, with Valverde adding that out-of-favour duo Vidal and Arda Turan still had a part to play this season.

“Vidal’s a good player who can play at right-back or further forward, so he’s a useful player to have,” he said.

“Performances in training and in games are what decisions are based on and Arda, too, is very much a squad player who is here to play.”

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