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25th Oct 2018

Reason behind Ousmane Dembélé’s absence from Barcelona vs Inter reflects very badly on him

Many expected Dembélé to start against Inter in place of the injured Lionel Messi, but this unfortunate episode meant he watched the game from the bench

Reuben Pinder

Many viewers were bemused by Dembélé’s absence on Wednesday night

With Lionel Messi ruled out of Barcelona’s Champions League tie against Inter Milan, Ousmane Dembélé was expected to fill the gap on the right wing. The Frenchman has struggled to break into the Barcelona side due to Messi and Philippe Coutinho occupying the wide positions, but this was a chance for Dembélé to justify his very large transfer fee.

But he let the opportunity slip away from him due to the sloppiest of mistakes: bad timekeeping.

According to Sports Cuarto, Dembélé arrived 25 minutes late to a pre-match meeting ahead of the Inter Milan game at the Camp Nou.

Manager Ernesto Valverde had called for a team meeting to be held at 7pm, two hours before kick-off, but Dembélé did not show up until almost half past, casting his future at the club into more doubt.

It’s not clear whether Valverde intended to use him in the game, but he watched the entire game from the bench as Barcelona cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Rafinha Alcantara – brother of former Barça midfielder Thiago – started in his place and made the most of his chance by scoring the opening goal, volleying a Luis Suárez cross home with style in the 32nd minute.

This unfortunate episode will not do Dembélé’s chances of playing in this weekend’s Clásico any favours, and could see him fall behind summer signing Malcom in the pecking order.