Dembele was controversially left out of the squad for the Levante game, despite having returned from a two-game suspension, and it came back to haunt Valverde as he could not call upon the mercurial Frenchman from the bench, although he backs his decision.
"Everyone always has to earn their place," Valverde stated.
"When he plays, he can stay in that position [in the line-up if he plays well].
"As it happens to Ansu [Fati], Luis [Suarez], [Antoine] Griezmann or [Gerard] Pique.
"When you have your chance, you will have to try and stay [in the team]."