Dembele has been hampered by injuries since his transfer from Dortmund last summer for 105 million euro ($124 million), plus add-ons. The 20-year-old attacker took part in a training session on Saturday, three weeks after his second thigh injury of the season.
The first injury, a few days after the Frenchman’s arrival in Barcelona, required surgery and kept him out until January. When Dembele returned, he re-injured the thigh.
“He did part of the session with the squad and next week he’ll join in more, little by little,” Valverde told a news conference. “We’ll see when he’s available.”
Barcelona are 11 points clear in La Liga and resume their Champions League campaign, against Chelsea, on February 14.
“Of course he’s not ready to play right now, we’ll try to be cautious with him, just like we were when he was recovering from his previous injury,” Valverde added. “He has had a little relapse and we are going to make sure it does not happen again.”
Dembele is not in the squad for the derby match against Espanyol in La Liga on Sunday. Victory would set a new club record of 22 matches unbeaten from the start of the season. Before this season, the longest Barcelona had stayed unbeaten was 21 games under Per Guardiola in 2009-2010.
“It’s a nice number,” Valverde said. “It means we are going in the right direction.”
Would you like to place a soccer bet? Click here to get started in 3 easy steps.