Barcelona Dembele’s World Cup dream could be in tatters after nightmare Barcelona season Robin Bairner Last updated 1 year ago 23:16 1/16/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(3) Getty Barcelona Ousmane Dembélé Real Sociedad v Barcelona France v Australia Real Sociedad France Australia Primera División World Cup Opinion By the time that the €105 million winger returns, two-thirds of the season will have been played, with the ex-Dortmund ace costing €734,265 per minute When Ousmane Dembele concluded his €105 million move from Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona last summer, it seemed that the young Frenchman was about to be propelled into superstardom.Only two years earlier, he had been threatened with being released by Rennes after engaging in an arm-wrestle with the club over his playing status. However, he would subsequently force himself into their starting XI with a succession of blistering performances, thus earning a transfer to BVB before developing into one of the Bundesliga’s outstanding figures.A move to a super-power was the next logical step for the 20-year-old but his time at Camp Nou has not gone as planned, thus threatening his place in a hyper-competitive France squad for World Cup 2018. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Lyon treble & England heartbreak: The full story behind Lucy Bronze’s dramatic 2019 Liverpool v Man City is now the league’s biggest rivalry and the bitterness is growing Megan Rapinoe: Born & brilliant in the U.S.A. A Liverpool legend in the making: Behind Virgil van Dijk’s remarkable rise to world’s best player He arrived amid much fanfare, signed for what was then a club-record fee, with the burden of having to replace Neymar. But nearly six months on, he has barely had the chance to show Barca’s fans what he can do, let alone display his ability to replace the world’s most expensive player.Playing his fourth La Liga match for his new side, Dembele suffered a hamstring problem when attempting to backheel the ball that ended 2017 as early as August. Having featured for only 92 minutes since, a different issue in his left leg promises to pin him to the sidelines for a month.Dembele’s fitness problems have not necessarily been the making of either the club or the player, but naivety may have played its part.“Maybe it was a sin of youth not to say that he felt discomfort in that area beforehand,” considered Dr. Sakari Orava, who has been keeping tabs on the player to Mundo Deportivo in October. “The pressure that he had been exposed to after his transfer to the club could also have influenced the injury.”By the time he returns to action, it is likely that two-thirds of the league season will have been completed. In the space of nine months, he will have completed a full match only once – the DFL Supercup back in August – and Barca will have paid €734,265 for each Liga minute their marquee summer signing will have played.To complicate matters for the attacker, he will also be competing for space in the starting XI with Philippe Coutinho, who took over from him as Barca’s record signing when he joined from Liverpool for €160m earlier this month. He is also injured, but is expected back in a fortnight.In the long term, the Brazilian’s presence should help Dembele ease his way back from hamstring issues, which are notoriously difficult to shake, but it is hard to see him nailing down the kind of minutes that will secure him a place in Didier Deschamps’ World Cup squad – a position that looked inevitable when the season began.“I have a lot of work to do to get up to speed, but I’m relaxed,” he said before suffering his setback. The workload will only increase with a further month’s absence.Inevitably, there will be linger doubts over Dembele’s ability to play with the kind of intensity required in tournament football, and the France boss will not be compelled to take a gamble on a half-fit player.There are a veritable gaggle of similar forwards battling for a berth in the national side. Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman, Anthony Martial and even Nabil Fekir and Florian Thauvin, in fine form for Marseille, are all capable of filling Dembele’s role, and while they are not all necessarily as proficient, all will have had the benefit of more competitive minutes to impress the coach.Of course, Deschamps’ preference will be to have the Barca ace in his ranks, but he does not want for alternatives if the concerns over the youngster are too great.It was Dembele’s destiny to play in Russia back in August, now it is drifting towards being a 50-50 shot. Another setback could be decisive, with Dembele’s dream of a successful debut season in Catalunya in very real danger of turning into a nightmare.
Heidi Klum, Pau Gasol and The Walt Disney Company were honored last week at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Gala: Noche de Ninos, for their compassion and dedicated support of the hospital’s mission.Antonio Banderas and Actress Melanie Griffith attend the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Gala: Noche de NinosCredit/Copyright: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Children’s Hospital Los AngelesNearly 1,000 prominent philanthropists, local dignitaries and supporters joined them at The Events Deck at L.A. LIVE and helped raise more than $2.6 million to fund critical hospital needs.Heidi Klum attends the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Gala: Noche de NinosCredit/Copyright: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Children’s Hospital Los AngelesEvening presenters Jamie Lee Curtis, Melanie Griffith and Phil Jackson, as well as Antonio Banderas, Kyle Richards, Mary Hart, Penelope Ann Miller, Garcelle Beauvias, Dustin Brown, Tony Dovolani, Val Chmerkosvkiy, AEG President and CEO Tim Leiweke and Olympic gold medalist Carmelita Jeter joined the festivities in support of the hospital’s signature biennial event, which aims to raise unrestricted funds to benefit patient care, medical research and families in need at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.The event – proudly supported by AEG and presented by The Walt Disney Company, Delta, Costco Wholesale, Alyce and Warren “Spud” Williamson, Dayle and Ken Roath and The Estate of Cameron Glidewel – was inspired by 11-year-old terminal cancer patient, Dustin Meraz, whose last wish was to encourage adults to have the “courage to care.”Melanie Griffith and Jamie Lee CurtisCredit/Copyright: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles“I know how important great doctors and a great staff can be – they provide the care and consideration that parents need most in that moment of their lives,” said Jay Rasulo, The Walt Disney Company Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer and former parent of a hospitalized child. “I’m here on behalf of the 150,000 people who work at The Walt Disney Company who would be as touched and honored as I am to receive the Courage to Care award. Disney’s work with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles spans nearly 30 years, and it’s an enduring relationship because we share the same values and goals: creating hope and building healthier futures for kids and families. Together we bring more comfort and care than each of us can do separately on our own.”“It’s such an honor to be recognized today, but it’s the incredible nurses and doctors who perform miracles every day,” said supermodel, television host, mom and designer, Heidi Klum, who was presented her award by three hospital patients. “I know as a parent I get nervous if one of my own has a fever or a cough, so I’m in awe of what’s accomplished every day inside the walls of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. What these kids go through everyday amazes me and it’s been an honor and a privilege to be part of such an incredible institution.”“I feel so fortunate to be part of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and to be able to touch peoples lives at this level,” said NBA superstar, Pau Gasol. “To be able to save a child’s life, to be able to have that kind of impact, that’s really powerful. The doctors, nurses and surgeons, those are the real heroes, those are my heroes.”To kick off the evening, guests enjoyed cocktails inside The Events Deck at L.A. LIVE, which was transformed into an enchanted forest complete with floating candles, beautiful rustic touches and sounds of the forest. Guests dined on food served by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck and enjoyed comedy from the night’s Master of Ceremonies, Emmy Award-winning “Dancing with Stars” host, Tom Bergeron. The evening also featured headline entertainment by Grammy-nominated artist, Five For Fighting, who donned a L.A. Kings jersey and cap for the performance in honor of AEG.