Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Sports | By Jonathan Ford

Barcelona coach Valverde pleased with Dembele for Malaga win

Barcelona coach Valverde pleased with Dembele for Malaga win

With Real Madrid struggling for points and goals, both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid have taken full advantage and Zinedine Zidane's men now sit third, and are 15 points behind Barcelona, with hopes of a back-to-back La Liga title slowly disappearing.

But coach Ernesto Valverde played down the speculation, describing it as a "fantasy".

Titleholders Madrid stayed within 15 points of Barca following their hard-fought 2-1 win at Eibar thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's brace. "While it's still mathematically possible, you can't rule anyone out".

Barcelona signed him in August from Borussia Dortmund for a then club record fee of 105 million euros ($129 million), plus a potential 40 million in add-ons, hoping he could replace Neymar after PSG had swooped for the Brazilian.

In particular, Dembele's brilliant turn and pass was bettered only by Coutinho's flicked finish for what was a superb second goal. "The move was ideal".

It was a comfortable outing for Barca, though Valverde accepted his team's minds were elsewhere ahead of next week's Champions League return leg against Chelsea.

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele earned the praise of coach Ernesto Valverde and his team mates after making the most of Lionel Messi's absence with an inspired performance in his side's 2-0 win at basement club Malaga on Saturday.

Dembele's individual highlights proved popular amongst Barca supporters on Twitter - it was surely his best game in a Barcelona shirt.

Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic suggested Dembele's Barcelona teammates have never doubted his quality.

"He didn't need a game like this as we all know he is a magnificent player", the Croat said.

"We know he's just come back from an important injury, especially for the type of player he is".

Dembele, whose first season in Spain has been ruined by injury, was the provider for Coutinho's goal approaching the half-hour mark after Suarez opened the scoring 13 minutes earlier.

It looks like we've been handed a huge boost in our pursuit as the Express are citing a report from Diario Gol that claims Dembele is considering a move to Arsenal this summer as he feels he hasn't got the support of Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez at the Nou Camp.

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