BARCELONA, Spain — Barcelona have confirmed that Ousmane Dembele sprained his ankle in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Leganes and that the forward will undergo tests on Monday to determine the severity of the injury.

Dembele opened the scoring against Leganes and produced one of his best performances in a Barca shirt before being forced off midway through the second half. The France international collapsed on the ground under minimal pressure, provoking immediate concern among the home supporters. He eventually got up and was able to gingerly limp around the side of the pitch back to the dressing room.

Barca have since revealed that Dembele suffered an ankle problem — ruling out initial concerns that he’d also damaged his knee — but coach Ernesto Valverde doesn’t know how long he will be without him.

“I have no idea how long he will be out,” Valverde said in a news conference. “I know it’s a sprain. We hope it’s nothing excessive, but I wouldn’t like to say anything else.

“It’s a huge shame, though, because we don’t have many replacements [in the squad]. But Ousmane’s calm. We hope it’s nothing serious. He is an absolutely key player for us.”

Dembele, who has now scored 12 goals this season, has seen his short time at Camp Nou hampered by injuries to date. He missed half of last season due to two different hamstring problems after joining from Borussia Dortmund for an initial fee of €105 million.

However, he’d remained injury-free until Sunday in the current campaign and has established himself as one of Barca’s best players during the last two months.

Valverde left Lionel Messi on the bench for the visit of Leganes and it was Dembele who really stepped forward in the Argentine’s absence. As well as scoring the opening goal, he was a constant menace with his pace and directness.

However, after Martin Braithwaite equalised for the visitors, it was the familiar face of Messi who helped Barca seal the three points.

His long-range effort was saved by Ivan Cuellar but Luis Suarez turned home the rebound to restore Barca’s lead. Messi then added the gloss to the scoreline in stoppage time after linking with Jordi Alba.

However, there were doubts about Suarez’s goal, with Leganes complaining that the Uruguayan had kicked the ball out of goalkeeper Cuellar’s hands. After a VAR review, the goal stood.

“For me, it seemed like a goal,” Valverde said. “What am I going to say? Everyone sees it from their own point of view, but if the referee gives the goal, it’s a goal.

“The [refereeing] controversy doesn’t end with VAR. For me, it’s a clear goal, obviously. There will always be controversy, there will always be mistakes, but we have to accept the errors. [They] won’t end with VAR or with a robot referee.”


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