Barcelona striker Ousmane Dembele, who has been sidelined since September, has been cleared to make his comeback in Thursday’s Copa del Rey clash against Celta Vigo.
The French international has not played since tearing his hamstring at Getafe on September 16, just three games into his Barca career following a 105-million-euro ($124 million) move from Borussia Dortmund that could rise to as much as 145 million euros.
“After a lengthy recovery process from an injury to the femoral biceps on his left thigh, the 20-year-old Frenchman is now available for (Barcelona coach) Ernesto Valverde,” Barcelona said on Tuesday.
Holders Barcelona will face Celta Vigo, coached by former Barca goalkeeper and assistant manager Juan Carlos Unzue, in the last 16 of the Copa del Rey, the Spanish Cup.
Diego costa has declared himself ready to play after completing his protracted move to Atletico Madrid.
The former Chelsea striker agreed to rejoin the LaLiga side in September but has been unable to register because of the club’s transfer ban.
He was officially introduced as an Atletico player on Sunday, and said he was ‘tired’ of training and keen to play as soon as possible – with Atletico’s next match coming against Lleida Esportiu in the Copa del Rey on Wednesday.
“I want to thank the club for the effort they have made to bring me back,” costa said, in comments reported by Marca.
“I just want to play as soon a possible. I’m tired of training.”
Que venha 2018 pic.twitter.com/OBP3u16nWk
— Diego Costa (@diegocosta) December 31, 2017
Costa, 29, helped Chelsea to the Premier League title last season but his three-year spell at Stamford Bridge came to an acrimonious end.
Manager Antonio Conte told costa early in the summer he was not part of his plans, but costa spurned offers from elsewhere to focus on Atletico – despite knowing the club’s transfer ban would prevent him from playing until January.
On Sunday, costa said he bore no grudges against anyone at Chelsea despite perhaps never fully settling in London.
“I did not learn to speak English,” he said. “A pity, but the truth is that there were very good people who helped me and made my life easy. It’s a great club and there are only good memories.”
Costa joined Chelsea from Atletico in 2014, and the club’s president Enrique Cerezo said: “costa does not need an introduction because this is his home and today we give him the best of welcomes. He is an extraordinary player and a great friend.”
After missing the first half of the season, costa has work to do to force his way into Spain’s plans for the World Cup, but said the best way to convince Julen Lopetegui of his qualities was to score goals for Atletico.
“It’s a challenge,” he said. “The first thing is to do things right here, because if that happens it will be easier to be one of Lopetegui’s options.”
Speculation has been rife that the 47-year-old, who guided Atletico to the La Liga title in 2013-14 and two Champions League finals, was set to depart after the club’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League.
But on Tuesday night in Madrid, Atletico president Enrique Cerezo said Simeone had given his word that he would remain at the club, at least for another year.
When asked to confirm this at the Dubai International Sports Conference at the Madinat Jumeirah on Wednesday, the Argentine, speaking through an interpreter, said simply: “Yes, this is true.”
He then shut down any further questions about his future saying he would “only speak about the event not about this topic.”
Simeone was a guest on a panel discussing “Investing in Youth Sector” along with former AC Milan, Real Madrid and England manager Fabio Capello and current Egyptian national coach, Hector Cuper.
“It’s very interesting to be part of such an event” said Simeone, “with panelists Cuper and Capello and sharing the experiences of the youth sector. So for me it was really important to share this with them.”
The 47-year-old did not rule out a future in England, expressing an admiration for where the English game is going.
“It’s definitely true that young English players are improving,” he said, “in England they have understood the importance of investing in academies for the future of their clubs.”
“It’s also the result of the economic growth of the game in England.”
Simeone, who starred for Atletico, Inter Milan Lazio in a distinguished playing career, also spoke about how to develop a winning mentality in young players.
“During the training sessions I give the players this attitude,” he explained.
“The motivation to work and go better and to train – to work hard. Train to compete, train to win the game in every situation, every game.”
Simeone also singled out 21-year-old Atletico defender Lucas Hernandez, who has been linked with Manchester United, as a player to watch.
“I know him since he was young and he has all the characteristics to be one of the best”, he said.
When asked whether he preferred “tiki-taka” (creative) or counter-attacking football, the La Albiceleste idol said: “Both these ways are very difficult and it depends on specific situations the way you manage the game.”
The conference culminates on Thursday with sessions on Football Technology Investment, Football Players: Business Plans and Leadership Vision with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.