Former Barcelona defender Eric Abidal has defended current star Ousmane Dembélé, suggesting the winger still has a major part to play at the Catalan club despite the recent arrival of Malcom.
The arrival of the Brazilian sparked much debate, including whether Dembélé was now surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou, with the World Cup winner already linked with moves to the Premier League.
Abidal, a director at the club, insisted that he doesn't believe a new arrival will stutter the progress of Dembélé at Barcelona, as he believes the current La Liga champions need a full strength squad to compete.
As quoted by AS, he said: "I respect all the players in the squad, we have to make a strong squad. They are players who play in the same position but the seasons are long and we think of the club. Dembélé can rest easy, it's important.
Barça's apparent lack of interest in recruiting a striker and the signing of Malcom makes me think Valverde is planning to use Dembele through the middle more often this season. Could be wrong but get that feeling.— Andy West (@andywest01) July 28, 2018
Dembélé, 21 years old, had a tough first season in La Liga, making only 12 appearances in a season where Barca won their seventh league title in ten years. The Frenchman scored three goals in that time, whilst notching six assists.
Jordi Mestre, vice president of Barcelona has also denied claims that Dembélé will be sold now that Malcom has joined, as he believes the youngster is an important player at the club.
Mestre said: "From the Board of Directors we do what the technical structure says. Dembélé is important and we absolutely have Dembélé."
Dembélé was part of the French side which won their second World Cup this summer, after a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the final.