We stick to the plan – Valverde not risking Dembele before January
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde will resist the urge to rush Ousmane Dembele back from injury ahead of next week's Clasico clash with Real Madrid, insisting he will not be risked before January.
Dembele arrived in August as a direct replacement for Neymar after his world-record €222million move to Paris Saint-Germain, but injury has curtailed his impact.
The 20-year-old winger ruptured a thigh muscle in his first LaLiga start against Getafe on September 16 and has not featured since.
And, although the first El Clasico of the Liga season takes place on December 23, Valverde does not feel tempted to risk him.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Sunday's visit of Deportivo La Coruna, Valverde told reporters: "He [Dembele] is fine.
"He's started doing more things with the group this week, but he has not completed all the training.
"We're still on the same plan; we think that by January he can play. To do anything else would be risky."
Sergio Busquets goes into Sunday's match on four yellow cards, meaning another sanction against Deportivo will rule him out of El Clasico, but Valverde is not going to give it much thought.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 16, 2017
"It is true that this is a circumstance to be taken into account," Valverde added.
"But you never know how the games can go. The three points are the same in both cases, plus a card can be given out to a player on the pitch, on the bench and in the tunnel."