​The Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde was quick to praise 20-year-old winger Ousmane Dembele after his team ​breezed past relegation-threatened Málaga 0-2 at La Rosaleda on Saturday evening.

After a string of injuries and a difficult time adapting to his new surroundings Valverde was impressed with the youngsters progress and his display against the league strugglers.

Valverde commented on Dembele's hard work behind the scenes, via ​Marca: "The thing about Dembele is that he always tries, he has a place here.

Malaga v Barcelona - La Liga

"He's a player who needs time, he's young and had injuries, there is pressure on him. Today is yet another step forward for him."

The Catalan's head coach then turned his attention to midweek's Champions League showdown with Chelsea, with the score poised at 1-1 ahead of the clash at Camp Nou.

"We will have to suffer to progress past Chelsea," he admitted. "Scoring early here was crucial, the red card made the match easier for us.

"In the second half we began to subconsciously think about the match on Wednesday."

While Barcelona continue to chase another treble, Valverde is still keeping an eye on rivals Real Madrid, who are hitting form - despite Los Blancos sitting 15 points behind in third with just 10 games to go.

"Of course they [Real Madrid] are a rival for the league title," Valverde added. "They will remain to be a rival until the mathematics of the table suggest otherwise.

"I don't discount them, and they'd do well not to discount themselves either."