Barcelona (AFP) – Young French forward Ousmane Dembele is “looking better every day”, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said ahead of his debut on Saturday.
Dembele, 20, joined Barcelona for a Spanish record transfer fee of 105 million euros ($125 million) from Borussia Dortmund that could rise to 145m euros with add-ons.
The Catalan giants splashed out on Demeble to fill the gap left by Neymar’s world record 222 million-euro move to Paris Saint-Germain.
“It took him a buit of time to digest the deal,” Valverde said of Dembele ahead of the derby against city rivals Espanyol.
“He’s only 20 and there was a media barrage,” Valverde explained.
“It’s not like he was lost or anything but these things affect you. He needed time to settle and now he’s looking better every day.
“He’s more at ease in training and I think he’s ready, although I haven’t decided exactly which role he’ll play tomortrow.”
Dembele will form a fearsome forward line alongside five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as Barca aim to wrestle the Champions League and La Liga titles back from rivals Real Madrid.
“It’s great that all the transfers are out of the way and now we can concentrate on the team we have, I’m very happy with it,” Valverde added.
“We have a great team, one which should win some trophies.”
Dembele announced himself as one of Europe’s top prospects with a stellar season at Dortmund, scoring 10 goals, after joining from Rennes for just 15 million euros a year ago.