The criticism of Ousmane Dembele is overblown, according to the player’s agent Moussa Sissoko.
Dembele was not in the Barcelona squad that suffered a 4-3 shock loss to Real Betis on Sunday as reports circulated he had been disciplined for a violation of team rules.
Reportedly, Dembele did not properly inform the club he was too ill to train last week, which led to his exclusion.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde claimed the omission was not a punishment and Sissoko has also taken those reports to task, claiming they are the latest in a long line of ill-informed rumours about his client.
"All these criticisms make me laugh,” Sissoko told RMC Sport. “It had already begun with a so-called delay at the meeting before the Champions League match against Inter. I am surprised that very serious newspapers can take back this information because Ousmane didn't arrive late.
“His coach has confirmed that the fact that he wasn't in the starting XI was not due to a delay."
The agent also addressed the discussion over Dembele’s illness this past week, confirming the club was annoyed by the situation but added there is no doubt over the attacker’s sickness.
“It is true that Ousmane was sick (before Betis),” Sissoko said. “He had not slept all night, he was very tired.
“He missed the morning training and what the club has blamed us is that he did not warn a little before that a doctor can see his mismanagement at home. He did it a little late.
“But he was sick, the club confirmed he had a (gastrointestinal illness), he missed the training because of that. And I am surprised that we also make controversy when he is sick.”
Sissoko pointed to his client’s continued recalls to the France national team, along with assurances from Barcelona sporting director Eric Abidal as proof concern over Dembele’s work habits are overblown.
Sissoko added: “Ousmane continues to work, he is in a big club, he is in national team and Didier Deschamps continues to call him.
“He is very much demanding on the behavior of the players and their performances so if Ousmane is today in team of France, he deserves it.
“I also had (Barcelona sporting director) Eric Abidal on the phone. He is very happy with Ousmane, he told me he was training very well. He doesn't question him at all right now.”
Deschamps also weighed in on the Dembele discussion Monday, saying that the attacker has a habit of being late to training, though he is not alone in that.
The France boss also added he hopes Dembele can improve his work habits going forward, though he did not want to comment on how Barcelona’s club policy.