Barcelona pair Ousmane Dembele and Raphinha are reportedly set to battle it out for the right-wing spot ahead of the LaLiga restart and the ‘unsustainable’ situation could see one of them sold next summer.
The pair have been rotated by Xavi with one player playing on the right and another on the left at times, though things have now come to a head after both players insisted they do not want to play on the left, according to AS.
Dembele has started 11 games under Xavi this season, scoring four goals and providing five assists to help propel the team to the top of the table, while new signing Raphinha has managed only six starts.
Xavi appears to have favoured Dembele on the right, occasionally playing Raphinha on the opposite flank in a handful of games including during a 3-3 draw against Inter Milan in the Champions League as he looks for the best formula to support star striker Robert Lewandowski.
The club will ‘have to make a decision’ on the duo soon, the report claims, adding that ‘a conflict is on the horizon’ after both players told Xavi of their preference for the right wing spot. Dembele starred for his country in Qatar, featuring in every game and starting all but one laying on two assists as his team went on to lose to Argentina on penalties following an enthralling 3-3 draw.
Xavi ‘has always been a supporter’ of Dembele, it says, with the Frenchman who went all the way to the World Cup final with France this month recently signing a new contract in July with his Spanish boss central to that.
However, he underperformed in the final and was hooked in the 41st minute of the game with Les Bleus trailing 2-0 in the game, as his replacement Randal Kolo Muani impressed before Kylian Mbappe’s brilliance rescued the team.
Raphinha, meanwhile, played five times for Brazil in the World Cup but did not manage to score or assist as he started three times. He has two goals and two assists for Barcelona in LaLiga since his £55million move from Leeds.
Now AS claim ‘only one can remain’ out of the two – and they say it is Raphinha who has the biggest point to prove to Xavi that he is worth putting in the starting XI, with Dembele currently looking ‘untouchable’.