Ousmane Dembele arrived to the Camp Nou 25 minutes late for Barcelona's Champions League clash with Inter, and a report from Spain has suggested that this could be why he failed to make an appearance during the game.
With Lionel Messi suffering a fractured arm, it seemed incredibly likely that Dembele would line up alongside Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, but Ernesto Valverde instead opted to play central midfielder Rafinha on the right wing - with Dembele forced to watch from the sidelines. The Frenchman was not even sent to warm up during the match.
According to Spanish outlet Sport, Barcelona players are expected to arrive two hours before kick off, but Dembele was 25 minutes late, and they suggest that Dembele's absence from the starting lineup could be because of his lateness.
The report also adds that this is not the first time that the 21-year-old has struggled with his timekeeping. They quote an interview with Gerard Pique, who said: "The WhatsApp group we use to talk about the timetables. It's going well because Dembele always arrives late."
Dembele has endured a challenging time in Spain since joining Barcelona for over £100m in the summer of 2017. He has nine goals and eight assists from 34 appearances, and many believed that he would be given a real chance to shine in Messi's absence.
However, Valverde's decision to use Rafinha as a right winger was surprising. Whilst Rafinha is certainly capable of playing in that role, he is predominantly a central midfielder and has been used exclusively in a central role by Barcelona this season.
Man, Dembele and Malcom didn’t even warm up during the game— IBES (@IBES16) October 25, 2018
The fact that Dembele was not even sent to warm up during the match was noticed by fans, who have started begun to speculate about Dembele's future at the club. Both Dembele and Malcom failed to make an appearance during the match, amid suggestions that the duo could be leaving the club in the near future.