Ex-Barca boss Valverde hails 'world-class' Dembele after winger puts Athletic to the sword

Dembele Barcelona 2022-23
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Ousmane Dembele has been praised after scoring and picking up three assists for Barcelona in a 4-0 win over Athletic Club.
  • Valverde back at Barca
  • Athletic beaten 4-0
  • Dembele the star of the show

WHAT HAPPENED? Valverde endured a miserable return to the Camp Nou and saw his side hammered 4-0 by Barcelona on Sunday. Dembele was player of the match for the hosts, opening the scoring with his first ever header for the club and picking up three assists. The Athletic boss shared his thoughts after the game and admitted he would have preferred it if the Frenchman had been on the bench.

WHAT THEY SAID: "It's not a good day. It was a horrible match, a jug of cold water. Dembélé is a world-class player. I wouldn't have minded if he rested," said Valverde. "Xavi's approach with four midfielders and Pedri on the left surprised me. It has unsettled us."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Dembele has been criticised for his decision-making this season but was unplayable against Athletic. The Frenchman teed up Sergi Roberto, Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres and now has four goals and seven assists in 15 matches for Xavi's side.

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Ousmane Dembele 2022-23

Ousmane Dembele Barcelona Athletic Club 2022-23

Ernesto Valverde

DID YOU KNOW? Dembele's opener against Athletic was the 4,000th league goal that Barca have scored at home.

WHAT NEXT FOR BARCELONA? The Blaugrana host Bayern Munich in the Champions League on Wednesday but will be knocked out of the competition if Inter beat Viktoria Plzen, regardless of their result against the Bundesliga champions.