Everyone at Barcelona is trying to help Dembele – Valverde

Barcelona faces a crunch La Liga clash at Atletico Madrid on Saturday with coach Ernesto Valverde facing plenty of selection posers.

Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele   -  Getty Images

Ernesto Valverde says everyone at Barcelona is working hard to get the best out of troubled France international Ousmane Dembele.

The 21-year-old, who joined Barca from Borussia Dortmund for an initial €105 million in August 2017, has had his professionalism called into question this season with reports suggesting he regularly fails to arrive on time for team meetings while also staying up late to play video games.

Dembele has not started a La Liga game since the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on September 29 and is likely to be among the substitutes once again when Barca visit fellow title-challengers Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

"He's a member of my squad and we're all trying to help get the best out of him," said Valverde. 

"We want him to put his talent on the pitch. Last season he missed a lot of games through injury, but these type of players, with his talent, are hard to find.

"There's pressure on every player to play and he finds it hard to get a place in the team."

One player who could have been lining up for Barca on Saturday is Antoine Griezmann, who spurned reported interest from the Spanish champion in pre-season to remain at Atletico.

"Antoine is a great player and in big games he tends to appear," added Valverde.

"He's a player we need to consider [on Saturday]. I imagine we'll see the best of him, although we hope not.

"Atleti are getting the best out of him and we will need to stop him."

Barca heads to the capital a point clear of three teams – one being Atletico – at the summit.

Valverde acknowledged a win at the Wanda Metropolitano would represent a major statement in the title race.

"[It] is a very important game after losing our last match [against Real Betis]," he said.

"We lost three points and now we've got a game where we're trying to keep our lead. It's a very tight league, there's not much difference between the teams.

"The so-called bigger teams are dropping points but we know Barca is a team that when we get on a roll are very hard to stop. There's no reason why we can't challenge for every trophy this season."

Barca will be without Ivan Rakitic on Saturday through injury with Arturo Vidal likely to replace him in midfield.

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