Why was Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele watching Sunderland vs Sheffield United?

 Ousmane Dembele watches Sunderland vs Sheffield United at Stadium of Light
Ousmane Dembele watches Sunderland vs Sheffield United at Stadium of Light

When Sheffield United came from behind to beat Sunderland 2-1 at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday Night, an unlikely face was spotted in the crowd enjoying the game.

Surprising fans with his presence at the Championship fixture, Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, bizarrely, joined Sunderland chairman and majority owner Kyril Louis-Dreyfus in the directors box.

Sky Sports cameras picked up the France international during live coverage of the game, but why was Dembele even there in the first place?

Simply put, Dembele is close friends with Louis-Dreyfus, who also owns a minority shareholding in Ligue 1 side Marseille. Both are French and of similar ages, the Barcelona winger 25 and the businessman 26.

The pair can be seen together in several photos posted on their social media accounts, with the most notable interaction coming last season when Sunderland secured promotion back to the Championship, as Dembele congratulated Louis-Dreyfus for the achievement.

Currently out injured with a hamstring injury, Dembele hasn't played for Barcelona since January. He managed to find time away from his rehabilitation programme to fly to the North-East, though, joining his friend for the Championship fixture on Wednesday.

Sunderland's Edouard Michut opened the scoring after 30 minutes, but Sheffield United managed to level the game before half-time through James McAtee, who curled a lovely strike into the far corner.

With the Blades chasing automatic promotion back to the Premier League, they went in search of the winner in the second half. They duly got it, with Tommy Doyle netting in the 61st minute after his wide free-kick creeped in without a touch from anyone else.

Sheffield United move six points clear of Middlesbrough in third, ahead of this Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final against Blackburn.

Sunderland, meanwhile, still retain a glimmer of hope in the push for play-offs, but face an almighty task as they sit eight points behind with nine games remaining.