Dembele returns to Barca squad

Ousmane Dembele
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BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona’s record signing Ousmane Dembele has been named in the squad for Thursday’s King’s Cup last-16 first-leg game at Celta Vigo after over three months out with a hamstring injury.

The France forward ruptured his hamstring 29 minutes into his first Liga start for Barca against Getafe in September following a club record 105 million euro ($126 million) signing from Borussia Dortmund. That made him the second most expensive player in the world after Paris St Germain forward Neymar.

Dembele, 20, underwent surgery in Finland and was given the all-clear by Barca’s doctors on Tuesday, although Barca coach Ernesto Valverde plans to introduce the player back into action slowly.

“Recovering Ousmane is very positive for us, he got injured just as he was adapting to the team,” Valverde said. “We will give him minutes little by little but he also has to earn his playing time.”

Spanish and English media reported that Barca, the La Liga leaders, are close to smashing the record amount they paid for Dembele by signing Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool for 150 million euros.

“He plays for another team, he’s a good player and we don’t know what will happen in the future but I‘m happy with the players I have right now,” Valverde said.