Barcelona make Ousmane Dembele U-turn, Xavi says “we are not going to shoot ourselves in the foot”

Xavi Hernandez said Barcelona could not afford to shoot themselves in the foot after restoring Ousmane Dembele to the squad for Sunday’s match against Atletico Madrid after a three-week exile.

Dembele, who is out of contract in the summer, was not called up for Barca’s last two matches after being told to either sign a new deal or find a new club. However, with the January transfer window now closed, Xavi said the situation has changed and he will count on the player until the end of the season.

“We did not find a solution with Ousmane, so the circumstances have now changed,” the Barca coach said in a news conference on Saturday.

“We have spoken with the president [Joan Laporta] and made the decision [to reintegrate Dembele]. He has a contract, he is part of the squad and we are not going to shoot ourselves in the foot by not using him.”

Xavi also called on supporters to back Dembele, who last featured in the Spanish Supercopa defeat to Real Madrid on Jan. 12, if he features against Atletico at Camp Nou this weekend.

“I understand fans may be hurt by [the situation] but I encourage them to come and support the team and support Ousmane, if he plays,” he added.

“He is training well and has been a good professional. We have to close ranks and think what is best for the club. We think he can help us and will use him when we see convenient.”

He has consequently been included in the squad for Sunday match against Atletico Madrid and UEFA Europa League campaign.

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