Luis Suarez has suggested that team-mate Ousmane Dembele must learn to be more serious if he is to become a success at Barcelona.
The pair will face off on Tuesday at the Stade de France when Suarez’s Uruguay visit the home of World Cup winners France for a friendly.
Speaking in his pre-match press conference the striker dismissed claims that Dembele had failed to adapt to life in Spain, but did dole out some advice for the young winger amid claims he could be set to leave Camp Nou.
“It’s not that he did not adapt because the relationship with his team-mates is very good,” he said. “We see him being happy.
“But as some of my team-mates have said, and Ousmane knows, football is a privilege for every player, and I think he needs to focus more, and be more serious on some points.”
He added: “There are many people around him in Barcelona who he can draw inspiration from, people with great professionalism. But he deserves to be there and triumph with Barcelona.”
Since joining the Catalan giants from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial £97 million ($124m), Dembele has endured a tumultuous spell.
Sidelined with a serious hamstring injury early on in his Barca career, he has struggled to hold down a permanent place in the side since his return at the beginning of the year.
Speculation over his future at the club has been fuelled by reports of the Frenchman’s unprofessionalism angering club officials.
Earlier in the week, Spanish newspaper AS reported that Dembele had missed training following an all-night video game session with friends.
The forward was also omitted from Barca’s match day squad for last Sunday’s shock 4-3 defeat to Real Betis, although both his agent and club officials were quick to suggest that this due to illness and was not a form of punishment.
The player’s agent, Moussa Sissoko, has also pointed to his client’s continued involvement in France manager Didier Deschamps’ international set-up as an indicator of his quality and professionalism.
Speaking to RMC Sport Sissoko said: “Ousmane continues to work, he is in a big club, he is in the national team and Didier Deschamps continues to call him.”
Barcelona visit third-placed Atletico Madrid on Saturday evening looking to extend their one point advantage at the top of La Liga.