Ousmane Dembele’s ever-growing rap sheet has threatened to derail his Barcelona career.
Signed from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial fee of £96.8 million, the 21-year-old has scored just seven league goals since arriving at the Nou Camp.
For a player who was expected to replace Neymar, he hasn’t been good enough.
Those stats haven’t exactly been helped by his injury record, with the forward having missed a combined 132 days of football with thigh and muscle problems.
However, the French international has also had to contend with accusations that his attitude is to blame for his poor start to life in Catalonia.
In a recent press conference, Ernesto Valverde bemoaned that the youngster does not work hard enough after losing the ball.
Off the pitch, it’s been claimed he turns up late to training and failed to adhere to a diet the club placed him on to help him improve.
As strongly as Dembele refutes those suggestions, sympathy with the precocious starlet is wearing thin, and all the more so after more reports of his behaviour emerged in the Spanish press.
DEMBELE WENT AWOL AGAIN
According to reports from Catalan radio station RAC1, which have since been corroborated by journalists from Mundo Deportivo, Dembele missed training on Thursday because he was suffering from gastroenteritis – fair enough.
The difficulty is that he did not tell anyone that he would not be attending, causing staff to look for him for an hour and a half, during which he would not answer his mobile.
Eventually, Dembele informed them via a phone call that he was ill, but he had not taken any medical advice. On Friday, club doctors will give their own assessment.
Rather than make an official comment to the newspaper, Barcelona insisted they would not comment publicly on internal matters.
It will be interesting to see if Dembele plays any role this weekend against Real Betis.
In the Blaugrana’s most recent outing, it did not help his case that after he was hauled off, replacement Malcom scored a key goal.
Despite the impact he made against Rayo Vallecano, those exploits are quickly being forgotten about as he seemingly continues to struggle.