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Sports News

Dembele has to fight for Barca starting role, says Koeman

BARCELONA (Reuters) - Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has said that Ousmane Dembele is no longer a guaranteed starter in his team due to the emergence of Ansu Fati but said it was up to the French winger to decide whether or not he wishes to stay or move away from the Camp Nou.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group F - FC Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - November 27, 2019 Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele reacts REUTERS/Albert Gea

Dembele was linked with a move to Manchester United among other clubs on Wednesday, with the transfer window shutting on Oct. 5.

The French forward signed for Barca for 105 million euros ($122.92 million) plus variables in 2017 but has been limited to 35 La Liga starts due to a series of injuries, including two operations to treat a ruptured hamstring.

“It’s down to the club and player, as long as the player is with us I’m going to count on him,” Koeman told a news conference ahead of Barca’s trip to Celta Vigo in La Liga on Thursday.

“He didn’t start the first game because there are other players and he has to wait for his turn to play. But he got on the pitch in the second half, he’s improved physically recently, he has trained well that shows that I count on him.”

Barca thrashed Villarreal 4-0 in their first league game of the season on Sunday with two goals from teenage forward Fati, who joined Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann in attack.

Koeman also confirmed that United States fullback Sergino Dest was undergoing a medical with the club on Wednesday ahead of a move from Ajax Amsterdam which Spanish media reports said was worth 20 million euros plus five in variables.

“Sergino is doing his medical at the moment, he still needs to sign contracts but it seems almost certain that he will sign,” Koeman said of the 19-year-old, who has made three appearances for the United States.

Dest, who broke into Ajax’s first team from the academy last year to make 27 appearances in all competitions, will compete with Sergi Roberto for Barca’s right back spot after Nelson Semedo left for Wolverhampton Wanderers last week.

($1 = 0.8542 euros)

Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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