Everyone always has to earn their place - Valverde challenges Dembele to prove his worth

By Sports Desk November 04, 2019

Ernesto Valverde has challenged Ousmane Dembele to earn his place in the Barcelona team after the forward was surprisingly left out against Levante.

Dembele was not part of Valverde's squad for Saturday's shock 3-1 loss in LaLiga, despite being available again after serving a two-game suspension.

Barca let slip a one-goal lead as they conceded three times in the space of seven minutes in the second half, their hopes of a recovery not aided by the loss of Luis Suarez to a calf injury before the interval.

The presence of Dembele on the bench may have helped Valverde at the weekend, though the Blaugrana boss is adamant the France international must show he deserves to be regularly involved.

"Everyone always has to earn their place - Dembele is no exception," Valverde told the media ahead of Tuesday's Champions League game against Slavia Prague.

"When he plays, he can stay in that position [if he plays well], as happens to Ansu [Fati], Luis [Suarez], [Antoine] Griezmann or [Gerard] Pique.

"When you have your chance, you will have to try to stay [in the team]."

Valverde was also questioned over the future of Riqui Puig amid reports the midfielder may push to leave in January to get first-team football – he is yet to feature for Barca so far this season.

"I don't know what can happen in the next transfer window - there is still time," Valverde said when asked about the rumours the 20-year-old is considering his future at Camp Nou.

"We have a lot of midfielders. With his talent, it is clear he will play at Barca. What we do not know is when."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Real Madrid in talks with Dortmund over Haaland, PSG want Koulibaly Rumour Has It: Real Madrid in talks with Dortmund over Haaland, PSG want Koulibaly

    Everyone wants a piece of Erling Haaland.

    The Norwegian teenager has taken Europe by storm this season. First with Salzburg and now with Borussia Dortmund.

    Haaland's exploits have reportedly alerted Real Madrid.

     

    TOP STORY – MADRID MAKE CONTACT FOR HAALAND

    Real Madrid have held talks with Borussia Dortmund over the signing of star striker Erling Haaland, according to Radio Marca.

    Haaland has enjoyed a record-breaking start to life at Bundesliga outfit Dortmund after arriving from Salzburg in January, having turned down Manchester United.

    But the 19-year-old's time with Dortmund could be brief as LaLiga giants Madrid reportedly circle amid their goalscoring woes.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - La Gazzetta Dello Sport journalist Nicolo Schira claims Paris Saint-Germain are interested in Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly. With veteran centre-back Thiago Silva out of contract at the end of the season and facing an uncertain future, Ligue 1 champions PSG are set to turn to Koulibaly, who has been linked to the likes of United, Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham. Napoli are reportedly set to demand at least €100-110million.

    Madrid are also reportedly interested in Koulibaly, while El Desmarque says Zinedine Zidane is tracking Inter defender Milan Skriniar.

    Tottenham are monitoring Manchester United defender and Roma loanee Chris Smalling, reports Calciomercato. Roma want to sign Smalling permanently.

    - According to Football Insider, City have identified Everton defender Mason Holgate as a primary transfer target. Pep Guardiola is determined to bolster his defensive options after an injury-plagued season.

    - Inter forward Lautaro Martinez is wanted by LaLiga champions Barcelona but Madrid are ready to go head-to-head with their rivals for the Argentina star, according to Mundo Deportivo.

    Milan are eyeing a move for Udinese star Rodrigo De Paul at season's end, reports Schira.

  • Arteta: Very hard for Arsenal to finish in top four following Europa League exit Arteta: Very hard for Arsenal to finish in top four following Europa League exit

    Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta acknowledged it will be "very hard" for the Gunners to secure Champions League qualification via the Premier League after crashing out of the Europa League.

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's stunning late miss in the final seconds saw Arsenal eliminated by Greek visitors Olympiacos, who sensationally prevailed 2-2 on away goals following Thursday's 2-1 extra-time victory.

    Arsenal won the last-32 first-leg 1-0 but extra time was needed after Pape Abou Cisse's restored parity for Olympiacos across two legs at the Emirates Stadium.

    Aubameyang looked to have settled the contest with seven minutes remaining in extra time but Youssef El-Arabi's silenced the London crowd before the former remarkably squandered a last-gasp opportunity.

    Winning the Europa League would have gained Arsenal access to the Champions League, having not featured in Europe's premier club competition since 2016-17, but the Gunners now face an uphill battle as they sit ninth in the Premier League – seven points adrift of the top four.

    "Very hard because looking at the table we're still far from the objectives that we all have, but we've been far all season from it and we have to keep fighting," Arteta, who replaced Unai Emery in December, told reporters post-match when asked about the difficulties of reaching the top four.

    "The most important thing now is that the dressing room has to be strong and we have to keep going and react. First of all, I have to convince them about what happened in the game and why they are not through in the tie.

    "If they continue to do that, there will be rewards like we have done in the last 10 games that we played."

    Arteta added: "I just want to concentrate now on lifting those players and getting back the belief, and convince them that there is still a lot to play for, and move on.

    "It's part of this sport that a big disappointment can happen and it happened. We have to learn and react as a team and as a club."

    While it was a heartbreaking evening for Arsenal, it was a memorable outing for Pedro Martins and Olympiacos.

    "It's a historic night for Olympiacos. We deserved this qualification, not only for these two games against Arsenal but also for our spirited performances in Europe throughout the season regardless of the results," Martins said.

    "We were determined, we believed we could qualify and we made it. Tactical intelligence, effectiveness, inner strength, courage… they all weighed in this success."

  • Rodgers hopeful Man Utd target Maddison will sign new Leicester deal Rodgers hopeful Man Utd target Maddison will sign new Leicester deal

    Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is hopeful James Maddison will sign a new contract amid links to Manchester United.

    Maddison's future continues to dominate headlines, with the Leicester star reportedly a top transfer target for Premier League giants United.

    United are set to try to prise Maddison to Old Trafford at the end of the season, however, Rodgers hopes the England international midfielder's long-term future is at King Power Stadium.

    "Talks have been ongoing with the club and his representatives," Rodgers said ahead of Friday's match against Norwich City.

    "I know the boy is very happy, he wants to be here and he sees this as the club he can develop at. I am hopeful it will be done."

    Maddison has scored nine goals across all competitions for Leicester this season, six of those coming in the Premier League with three assists.

    The 23-year-old has established himself as one of the Premier League's best attacking midfielders since joining from Norwich in June 2018.

    Maddison has enjoyed another fine campaign as Leicester sit third in the standings and on track to qualify for the Champions League after 27 matches.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.