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Sports

Pogba, Dembele injuries reveal high cost for clubs

media Manchester United vs FC Basel - Old Trafford, Manchester, Britain - September 12, 2017 Manchester United's Paul Pogba receives medical attention after sustaining an injury REUTERS/Darren Staples

Top flight players Paul Pogba and Ousmane Dembele face a lengthy lay-off due to injuries. The combined cost of the pair to their clubs was more than 200 million euros. Now Manchester United and Barcelona must struggle to do without them.

After splashing out millions on Ousmane Dembele to replace Neymar who left to join Paris Saint Germain this summer, Barcelona now face the prolonged absence of their star player.

The 20-year old was spotted on Monday at Barcelona airport in a wheelchair on his way to Finland to undergo thigh surgery. He's expected to be out of action for up to four months.

"It's really bad news for Barcelona," sports consultant Vincent Chaudel told RFI.

"They tried to switch from Neymar to Dembele," he added. But this plan backfired. The Catalans now have to find another forward striker who can play up front with Lionel Messi and Luis Saurez to pursue their Champions League campaign.

Neymar hole still to fill

Ousmane Dembele is said to miss several games, including league clashes with title rivals Atletico and Real Madrid, as well as the rest of Barcelona’s Champions League group stage campaign.

And he’ll also miss France’s two world cup qualifiers against Bulgaria and Belarus.

In terms of marketing, it's equally bad news, insists Chaudel.

"The team needs other players besides Messi who can replace Neymar."

Dembele had been brought in to fill the hole left by the Brazilian. His transfer from Borussia Dortmund cost Barcelona 147 million euros, making him the world's second most expensive player after Neymar.

United power on without Pogba

Another expensive footballer who's out injured is Paul Pogba. He cost about the same when he moved from Juventus to Manchester United.

Like Dembele, Pogba is facing a lengthy lay off after sustaining a hamstring injury in Manchester United's Champions League defeat of Basel last Tuesday.

United coach Jose Mourinho has dismissed Pogba's injury rumours as nonsense.

"I don't know if it is 12 weeks or 12 days, honestly," the Portuguese coach said after United's 4-0 win over Everton in the Premier League on Sunday.

Although it should be noted that the Frenchman wasn't really missed during the Everton game.

Goals from Antonio Valencia, Henrikh Mkhiitaryan, Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial put United at the top of the table alongside Manchester City.

Under pressure

For now at least United can do without Pogba, but not for the big games, reckons Chaudel.

"For Manchester United, they will have big games in the Premier League but also in Champions League. For those games, they need their key players. And Pogba is one of the key players for Manchester United."

Clubs like United and Barcelona do have insurance to cover top flight casualties. However, when these casualties drag on for months, it's damaging not just for their pockets but also their performance.

"They'll be crossing their fingers and hoping that the player will recover well and soon," asserts Chaudel.

In most cases, players get injured during a bad tackle or a wrong move on pitch, but, with Pogba, it's believed that his woes came as a result of overtraining.

"The fact that Paul Pogba was a top scorer last year put a lot of pressure on him," adds Chaudel.

This stress on Premier League players, with their need to be in peak form for domestic and European games, seems to be contributing to a worrying rise in injuries.

Players like Pogba want to prove they're worth every penny, even if that means pushing too far.

"So it's a question of balance between the coach, the player and the media," concludes Chaudel, "they need to lay off the pressure."

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