Ousmane Dembele could be handed his latest chance to impress on Saturday when Barcelona travel to Levante after an absence motivated by a ban. Ernesto Valverde was without the Frenchman for the last two games because of the red card he received against Sevilla. Dembele also missed six games at the start of the campaign through injury.
Nothing new when it comes to the 'Mosquito', of course, who has 'bitten' much less than expected this season: he has only played 267 minutes (scoring one goal) across five of Barça's 13 official matches.
His signing was outlandish, as he forced his way out of Borussia Dortmund, with the German club eventually accepting 105 million euros (plus 20 million more in variables), and his performances on the pitch have been inconsistent, to be generous.
Everyone expected the best from him in 2017/18, excited that he could help to fill the Neymar gap on the left. But he suffered an unfortunate injury against Getafe in September and was sidelined until January, when he returned before being ruled out for another month.
The 2018/19 season saw him start without injuries and playing a key role. He took part in 12 of the first 14 games, scoring five goals and setting up one... until he missed a training session. Ernesto Valverde then left him out of the squad for the loss to Real Betis and criticism rained down on the Frenchman, with his teammates even calling for more professionalism.
In the summer, he was mentioned as a makeweight in the Neymar talks, but nothing came of it. In addition to another muscle injury and a suspension, he's not having to compete with competition from Antoine Griezmann, and even from Carles Perez and Ansu Fati.
Camp Nou still love Dembele on his day -- his pace and his skill can be electric -- but there's a sector resigned to the fact, now in his third season at the club, he may never fulfill his potential.
In an interview with SPORT this season, Lionel Messi asked him to take a step forward. Now is his chance.
(*).- Until Nov. 1 of each campaign