After a chorus of boos greeted Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele’s return to the squad in Sunday’s LaLiga triumph against Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou, manager Xavi Hernandez begged fans not to jeer the France international.
Barcelona came back from a goal behind to defeat Atletico Madrid 4-2 in a clinical display that saw them score four goals from only four efforts on target.
After failing to renew his contract, which was supposed to expire at the end of the season, Dembele has not played for Barcelona since January 12.
Barcelona requested that he depart before the January transfer window closed, but the 24-year-old was unable to find a new team and will remain with the Catalan club until the end of the season. In Sunday’s match, he was an unused substitute.
Xavi said at a press conference that the fans were “ten out of ten” and that the support was “amazing” throughout the game.
“However, I’d like them to back Ousmane as well.” I’d request that they refrain from booing him.
“The plan was for him to come on, but because of the red card and the way the game proceeded, I decided on other things,” Xavi remarked, referring to Dani Alves’ sending-off in the 69th minute.
Barcelona leapfrogged Atletico Madrid into fourth place with 38 points from 22 games, two points ahead of fifth-placed Atletico.