Lionel Messi has insisted that Barcelona need Ousmane Dembele and praised the Frenchman’s performance after the attacking duo both got on the score sheet in their side’s 4-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday.

Messi stole the show at the RCDE Stadium with a decisive brace as the Argentine led his side to victory in trademark style, but his attacking partner Dembele was also among the bright points for the La Liga champions.

RCD Espanyol v FC Barcelona - La Liga

The World Cup winner has had a mixed start to life at the Camp Nou since arriving from ​Borussia Dortmund in 2017, with injuries and inconsistent form limiting his development. However, according to Marca via sport360, ​Messi insisted: “He’s very good.

“He wants to play, he had a good game, scored a goal and was important. We need him.”

​Dembele started the match in a front three, alongside Messi and ​Luis Suarez, and ​Barcelona benefited in attack from the added dimension that the Frenchman provided.

Though Suarez also got on the scoresheet, pressure has grown increasingly on both the Uruguayan and Messi in recent times to shoulder Barcelona’s goal scoring burden, with a lack of depth in the attacking ranks beyond the South American duo.

However, Dembele’s strike on Saturday was evidence that the 21-year-old is capable of adding the kind of added attacking thrust that ​Neymar once did before him on the left hand side of Barca’s attack.

Dembele’s mixed fortunes to date in a Barcelona shirt have seen the winger linked with a move away from the Camp Nou in search of more first team football, with ​Arsenal regularly linked with the forward.

However, Dembele has now scored six goals in 14 La Liga appearances this term, suggesting that the Frenchman may be starting to rediscover his form at the Camp Nou.