Barcelona again has to try to find solutions to keep its attack competitive. Just when Ousmane Dembele was starting to get used to his role as Neymar's replacement, the young forward was struck by an injury that will keep him sidelined for up to four months. With the transfer market closed and no other top forward in the squad, Barcelona has to go back to the drawing board to find another partner for Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, who has been carrying the load for the offence with eight goals in seven matches in all competitions this season.
The Catalan club leads the Spanish league after winning its first four matches. Its next match is Tuesday against Eibar at the Camp Nou Stadium.
The responsibility to help the attack may fall again on Gerard Deulofeu, who failed to impress when he was first given the chance to replace Neymar.
Barcelona had not yet signed Dembele when it promoted the 23-year-old player to try to fill the hole left by the Brazilian star when he moved to Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record transfer worth more than 220 million euros ($262 million).
Deulofeu struggled under the spotlight, though, and only improved after being demoted to a secondary role. He eventually started to play well off the bench or when getting a chance to start in the absence of the regular starters.
Coach Ernesto Valverde may also replace Dembele by improvising other players in the position, including Denis Suarez, Sergi Roberto, Aleix Vidal and Paco Alcacer. It can also rely on youth players such as Jose Arnaiz or Carles Alena. Going forward, Arda Turan and Rafinha — who are injured — may get to play up front along with Messi and Suarez.
Barcelona failed to bring any other top players in the offseason, with its only signings being Paulinho and Deulofeu, a product of the club's youth academy who had been playing with Everton.
Deulofeu replaced Dembele when the 20-year-old forward injured his left thigh tendon midway through the first half of Barcelona's 2-1 win at Getafe on Saturday.
Dembele will undergo surgery to repair the tendon on Tuesday in Finland. He was photographed on a wheelchair as he made his way to the Barcelona airport on Monday.
The France forward was making only his third appearance with Barcelona. He is likely to miss the entire group stage of the Champions League.
Barcelona signed Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in a deal that could reach nearly 150 million euros ($180 million), the biggest ever in the history of the Catalan club.