Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman clarifies Ousmane Dembele situation after Real Valladolid win

Ousmane Dembele’s Barcelona future discussed by pundit

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Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has insisted Ousmane Dembele is an important player for the club. The France international has been linked with a move to Manchester United ahead of the summer transfer window. And he scored the winner on Monday night as Real Valladolid were beaten 1-0 in their La Liga showdown.

Barcelona went into the match against Real Valladolid knowing victory would see them move to within a point of Atletico Madrid at the top of the La Liga table.

And they picked a crucial victory courtesy of Dembele, who scored the only goal of the game.

The France international has never achieved consistency since his move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, where he replaced Neymar.

But he’s impressed under Koeman this season and, speaking after the match, the Dutchman insisted the forward was an ‘important player’ for the club.

“He’s an important player,” Koeman said of the Frenchman.

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“He has shown that with his performance and goal and he gave us the three points.

“He’s had a very good season, he has improved a lot. Regularity has been the key for him.”

Koeman also praised Barcelona for their gritty performance, admitting they had to dig deep to pick up all three points.

“We lacked a lot in the first half,” the former Everton and Southampton boss said.

“We didn’t press them very well. I saw a slow, tired Barcelona from the start.

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“We didn’t control the game. So we changed the system and improved in the second half.

“It was a difficult game and we were some way off our level. Real Valladolid did a good job defensively, but you have to know how to suffer and I think we deserved to win.”

Despite the complications, the Dutchman was happy to see his side win without being at their best.

“The guys showed that they are capable of winning,” Koeman said.

“You have to have freshness in the team. I didn’t see that and maybe it’s because of the internationals, but we’re capable of winning.

“At times you are lucky, and at others you’re unlucky. But the mentality of the team has to be highlighted because they didn’t stop looking for three points.

“We had a bit of luck at the end of the game. But I was calm, I was more worried in the first half because I saw a very different team compared to recent games. We improved in the second half and created chances. They showed they can win without playing well.”

Koeman was refusing to get carried away, however.

Barcelona now have genuine hope of winning the La Liga title, something that seemed unfeasible just weeks ago.

And he’s admitted that victory over Real Madrid next week would be ‘important’ for the title race.

“It’s always an important match,” Koeman said.

“Even more so now, considering the situation. A good result would be important for the title race.”

In other Barcelona news, the Catalan titans are being linked with Neymar again.

The Paris Saint-Germain star is stalling on a new contract over in France and is supposedly keen to return to the Nou Camp.

And Barcelona are open to a return, though would like to sign the Brazil international for free next year instead of spending any cash now.

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