The Brazilian was handed the No14 jersey when he joined the club in January from Liverpool, although the No7 was soon available following the departure of Arda Turan a week later.
Following the arrival of Malcom, Coutinho’s fellow Brazilian, from Bordeaux last month, it was thought the youngster would be given the No7 shirt, but the La Liga champions have opted for the senior man.
Coutinho joins a select group of great players to have worn the number for Barcelona, with Luis Figo, Henrik Larsson, and David Villa among the modern examples.
Lead image credit: Barcelona.com.
The young Frenchman, who only joined Barca a year ago, has been linked with a move away this summer, with several of Europe’s leading clubs said to be interested.
Barcelona’s signing of young Brazilian winger Malcom from Bordeaux further fueled the speculation as the two play the same position, and with Malcom’s arrival and Phillipe Coutinho likely to be deployed in attack rather than midfield, starting XI opportunities for Dembele may be limited.
However, the 21-year-old has no intention of leaving.
“I’m staying at Barcelona and I’m ready to play the Spanish Super Cup,” Dembele said on French online streamer FM_Guru’s live broadcast.
Barcelona face Sevilla in the Super Cup on Sunday.
18-year-old Juan Miranda, who has been on the fringes of the first team, is now being eyed as the first-choice deputy to Jordi Alba.
While Alba enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2017-18, getting three goals and 11 assists across all competitions, Digne’s departure means there’s no cover for the Spaniard, or anyone to challenge him and push him further.
Miranda and fellow academy product Marc Cucurella were the two main contenders once sporting director Eric Abidal reportedly told Valverde that left-back was not a position for which the club would release funds.
Cucurella is likely to go out on loan, but Miranda is being trusted with a first-team promotion, having impressed during the pre-season, though he’s made only a handful of appearances for Barcelona B.
The decline of La Masia has been a criticism of Barcelona in recent years, with few players having stepped up from the academy since the generation of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, and Gerard Pique all progressed into the first team.