Ousmane Dembélé stays, if that was ever a doubt. There were whispers that Barcelona were open to selling him, and it got bad enough that the player himself liked a tweet in which a user accused Diario SPORT of intentionally trying to sabotage him to make the board look bad.
There were rumors of offers that may or may not have happened, from Arsenal and PSG. Also rumors that he wasn’t showing up to training on time, or wasn’t fitting in. There was a video of Dembélé spilling champagne on the ground alongside his teammates Benjamin Mendy and Presnel Kimpembe. He was a kid in his early twenties having some fun with some friends after winning the World Cup. Was it the most dignified thing he could have done? Probably not, but was the reaction he got a bit much?
They urged him to come back early from the World Cup, saying he didn’t need rest because he didn’t play too much. What may have started as advice turned into expectation, with fans decrying that if he took the vacation time he was promised in full, he was betraying the team. On social media, Dembélé was attacked. He knew it, too. He liked, apparently sarcastically, tweets which mentioned him and called him a lazy good-for-nothing, or a gangster, or even racist insults. At the end of the day, Dembélé did show back up to training a few days earlier than expected.
A disappointing first season marred by injury, and an eye-popping price tag, all added up to a lot of drama. And perhaps, also, to a whole bunch of nothing.
The best thing about the season finally starting is we can forget it all and focus on what really matters. Dembélé had a great match, even if you forget the goal he scored, the winner in Barcelona’s 2-1 Supercup win over Sevilla. But why should we forget that goal? It was truly a thing of beauty, a laser beam from outside the box with such perfect placement, Sevilla’s impressive keeper Tomás Vaclik was nowhere near it.
The young winger still can make bad choices on the ball, but with time, comes better decision-making. And we’d be hypocrites castigating him for that when Luis Suárez, a veteran player, was making even more mistakes. And the thing is, Dembélé takes risks with the ball. It doesn’t always come off, but it does often enough to justify it.
Lionel Messi was once again the best player on the pitch, creating an astonishing seven chances. But Dembélé was not far behind, creating three for the team. Dembélé also had three dribbles to Messi’s two.
The defensive phase comes a bit less naturally to the Frenchman, but he’s shown he’s willing to track for the good of the team. His great top speed allows him the ability to help on defense if he’s caught out.
But naturally, his best moments come with the ball at his feet or making runs for a teammate to pick out. Ambidextrous, Dembélé started on the left wing today, though his goal came from the right. It remains to be seen whether he will continue to line up on the left, to allow Messi to play on the right, or whether he will return to the right and Messi will go to the middle.
Regardless, it’s nice to give the rumors a rest.