Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has steered his team to a dominant place at the top of LaLiga, having taken over with the club mired by plenty of problems last summer, and he admits that Neymar’s departure was a diffficult moment to overcome.
There was discontent among the fans as they watched Real Madrid win LaLiga and the Champions League as well as surpass them in the Supercopa de Espana.
In particular the way that Paris Saint-Germain had managed to lure away Neymar seemed to indicate the club’s impotence.
“Neymar’s departure was a difficult moment for the club,” he explained in an interview with Barcelona’s official website.
“We can’t deny that.”
Dembele is now set to return from injury and the debate is how he will fit into the side and whether they need to change strategy.
“We will assess things,” he stated.
“We must take into account the positions occupied by both Leo (Messi) and Luis (Suarez).
“We have to adapt, but we know that Messi can play anywhere, we want to position him in a way where he spears our attacks.
Looking back at the highlights of 2017 he said it was easy to focus on the Clasico as it was the most recent achievement.
“We immediately think of the Clasico, it’s the most recent memory,” he intimated.
“As a group we’ve lived through several key moments.
“The match at home against Juventus, the comeback against Getafe, they were a complicated team to face.”
Whilst many of the January headlines will centre on Philippe Coutinho and the Brazilian’s potential arrival in Catalonia, Valverde believes that Dembele’s return will be exciting.
“To be a Barcelona player, you have to have different characteristics,” he confirmed.
“Dembele has to adapt, his injury was a difficult one, it was a big blow.
“He is young and talented; however there may be some tension for him after such a big transfer.”