La Liga: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insists playing injured Ousmane Dembele in El Clasico would be 'premature'
Dembele hasn't played since tearing his hamstring at Getafe on 16 September, just three games into his Barca career following a 105-million-euro ($124 million) move.
Barcelona: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insisted throwing the club's record signing Ousmane Dembele back into action for next weekend's Clasico at Real Madrid would be "premature".
Dembele hasn't played since tearing his hamstring at Getafe on 16 September, just three games into his Barca career following a 105-million-euro ($124 million) move that could rise to as much as 145 million from Borussia Dortmund.
"We are staying with the same plan. We think he will be ready in January," said Valverde on Saturday after Dembele returned to training this week.
"Any other plan would be premature and run a risk."
Victory over Deportivo la Coruna on Sunday will open up an 11-point advantage for the Catalans over Madrid ahead of their trip to the capital next weekend, albeit Real would have a game in hand.
However, Valverde refused to admit that Barca can deliver a knockout blow to Madrid's chances of retaining the title with victory at the Bernabeu.
"We don't know what will happen, but our job is obviously to try and win both games," added Valverde.
"It doesn't concern me that people speak so much about the Clasico before tomorrow's game, but we won't make that mistake."
LaLiga: Barcelona says various lawsuits with PSG superstar Neymar have ended 'in an amicable fashion'
The Brazilian superstar Neymar enjoyed a successful spell at Barca between 2013 and 2017 before joining Paris Saint-Germain for a then world record €222 million ($261 million).
LaLiga: Complaint accusing Barcelona's Lionel Messi of fraud, money laundering dismissed by Spanish court
Federico Rettori, an Argentine national living in Spain who claims he formerly worked for Messi's charity, had filed a similar complaint in 2019 which was also dismissed.
Messi, who earlier this month finally landed a major international trophy with Argentina when they beat rivals Brazil to win the Copa America, "will sign a five-season contract with a release clause of 600 million euros ($709 million)," according to Catalan sports daily L'Esportiu.