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Lenglet plays down Dembele Barcelona exit reports amid Liverpool links

13:20 SAST 2018/11/14
Ousmane Dembele Barcelona 2018
The defender insists that a stomach bug ruled his countryman out of the weekend's action, amid rumours all is not well at Camp Nou

Clement Lenglet has moved to deny reports that Ousmane Dembele is restless at Barcelona, despite the forward's ongoing struggle to carve out a regular place in the club's starting line-up. 

Dembele was considered one of football's top young talents when he swapped Borussia Dortmund for Camp Nou in 2017, after a single, scintillating season in the Bundesliga put his name on everyone's lips. 

The France international has, however, found life in Spain hard going, struggling with a lack of opportunities and a series of niggling injuries in his debut season which impeded efforts to make a name for himself at his new club.

While Dembele started 2018-19 as a starter he has been relegated to the bench for Barca's most recent outings, and did not even make Ernesto Valverde's matchday squad for Sunday's defeat at the hands of Betis. 

Rumours have linked the forward with a switch to Liverpool in recent times but Lenglet believes his team-mate is content at Camp Nou, while also explaining his absence at the weekend. 

"If Dembele looked serious in the stands I think that is understandable," the defender explained to  Goal  when asked about his compatriot's behaviour. 

"We were losing and if he started to laugh people would not understand that either. I don't think there is any problem with him, he was ill, he couldn't make training and the coach chose another player. 

"These are things that happen at every club and we all have to pull in the same direction to reach our goals."

Unlike Dembele, who was part of the France squad that lifted the World Cup over the summer, Lenglet is yet to make his bow at senior level after starring for Les Bleus from the Under-16s to U-21s. 

The defender was overlooked again by Didier Deschamps for November's clashes against Netherlands and Uruguay, but he is remaining patient while waiting for his opportunity. 

"I have a lot to learn still. If I am not on the list it is because there are still things I have to improve but I am working at Barcelona with the best in the world and that helps me to grow," he added. 

"I am not impatient. If the call comes I will be very happy but in the meantime I will keep working as always to wait for my moment, I am focused on enjoying the day-to-day."

Lenglet also believes that at 23 he can continue to hone his game at Barcelona, where talent on the ball is fundamental. 

"It is a different style to that of any other club. You have to think before receiving the ball, always position yourself well to go from one side to the other and think about the pitch all the time," he said. 

"It is hard for defenders because we defend far from our goal and we have to press constantly. That is difficult to adapt to but it is a great thing. 

"When we manage it we will be able to play the way we want to, and that is the toughest thing in football."