Barcelona general manager Pep Segura has admitted that Ousmane Dembele is struggling to settle but insists the club will stick by the France forward.
Dembele, 21, was left out of Barca’s squad for last weekend’s loss to Real Betis after failing to turn up for training because he had a stomach bug.
Sources have told ESPN FC that the club have grown concerned over some of his bad habits and France coach Didier Deschamps said this week that he often has problems with punctuality.
Teammate Gerard Pique has also said Dembele must learn how to be more professional, but pledged to help him and Segura says Barca plan on doing the same.
“There’s no problem with Dembele,” Segura told Cadena Ser after confirming he met with the forward’s agents earlier this week to discuss recent events.
“It’s a normal situation for a young player with a lot of talent who has arrived at a club as big as Barca, full of great players. He had never experienced that before and there’s an adaptation process that he has to go through.
“He’s really young and he’s never had to get up to adjust to a playing style like ours. We admit he’s finding it difficult. He also recognises that. What we are doing is working as hard as possible so that he can adapt in the best possible way.”
Dembele’s Camp Nou problems have seen him linked with a move away from the club. Liverpool have reportedly made an offer, but Segura knocked back that suggestion, saying he’s not for sale.
“As of today we have no offers for Dembele and we have no plans to change the structure of the squad,” he added.
However, Barca are weighing up possible signings — either for January or in the summer.
Sources have told ESPN FC that Ajax defender Matthijs de Ligt is a priority with midfielder Frenkie de Jong, also of Ajax, and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba also being considered.
“In general, we will always need players like De Jong because that’s the profile we want,” Segura said when asked if the club were more likely to move for the Dutchman or Pogba.
“But we’ve always had players with characteristics not necessarily loyal to what the club demands, like [Seydou] Keita, who have added that balance that you need to fight for every competition. And the biggest competitions, like the Champions League, require players with different profiles more and more.”
Segura also touched on the possible return of Neymar. He says bringing the Brazilian back is not currently an option, but didn’t completely shut the door on what would be a sensational return.
“It’s an issue which is not on the table right now,” he said. “I have already said that no young player that leaves for money will return. We stand by that. But the circumstances with Neymar are totally different.”