Barcelona record signing Ousmane Dembele is progressing well from his muscle injury, but the surgeon who operated on him last month warns the Frenchman won't return to action anytime soon.
Dembele, 20, moved to the Nou Camp from Borussia Dortmund during the summer transfer window in a club-record deal worth €105m (£93.2m, $125m) plus €40m in add-ons.
However, the France starlet has been unable to justify that price tag after he suffered a serious muscle injury during Barcelona's 2-1 victory over Getafe on 16 September.
On 19 September the Barcelona forward was ruled out for three and a half months after undergoing an operation with specialist Sakari Orava in Finland.
"FC Barcelona striker Ousmane Dembélé was successfully operated on Tuesday to repair a ruptured biceps femoris in his left leg. Dr. Sakari Orava performed the surgery. Dembélé remains under the supervision of Dr. Ricard Pruna. He is expected to be out for three and a half months," Barcelona confirmed at the time through an official statement.
Dembele was originally expected to be out of action until next year, missing around 20 games, including the first El Clasico of La Liga at Real Madrid on 23 December.
But days later the France international provide a much more optimistic update, suggesting on Instagram that he could be back from his muscle injury in just two months.
There were suggestions at the time that Dembele only expected to be back in training in two months, and he would still need some time to recover his match fitness to play a game.
One way or another Doctor Orava has now clarified that the recovery is going according to the three and a half months originally scheduled – and so Dembele shouldn't be back until after the clash with Real Madrid on 23 December.
"He, like other kids of his age, is very optimistic but it is preferable to be cautious," Orava said to Mundo Deportivo.
"So far, Dembele's recovery is going well. I am in permanent contact with [Barcelona's club doctor Ricard] Pruna, who is on charge of sending me the reports and, for the moment, everything is right."
If Dembele returns after the three and a half months set following the operation, he should be back for the La Liga clash against Levante on 7 January, or even four days before in the first leg of the Copa del Rey last eight, should Barcelona make it that far.
Some reports in Spain said at the time Dembele eventually picked up the injury before the game with Getafe, as there were videos of the player complaining about his hamstring in the pre-match warm-up.
The surgeon admits that the pressure generated following his big-money signing from Dortmund may also have played a role in the injury.
"Maybe it was a sin of youth not to say that he felt pain in that area before," the doctor said. "The pressure he'd been exposed to after his signing for Barca also could have influenced it."