As most of you reading this will be aware, I’ve been one of Ousmane Dembele’s fiercest critics in the past.
Even in the recent past I’ve been known to take the odd pot-shot at the French World Cup winner.
Perhaps that’s more to do with my own frustrations at a player that clearly has it all but hasn’t performed to the level he’s truly capable of on a regular enough basis.
Let’s be honest, he does possess something that no one else in the Barca squad does, and when he’s 100 percent fit and in full flight, he is a joy to watch.
If he can just steer clear of injuries for a sustained period and execute his final ball more often than he has, frankly he can save the club a pretty penny in transfer fees as there’ll be no need to look for a player with exactly the credentials he has.
Ousmane Dembélé just posted this on his Instagram stories - while he’s in advanced talks with Barcelona to extend his contract, currently expiring in June 2022. #FCB pic.twitter.com/gC5hsTHUUZ— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 26, 2021
Xavi clearly rates him and potentially persuading him to stay - reportedly at a lower salary than he would receive elsewhere - can’t be understated.
Footballers need confidence to give their best and it’s obvious that the coach has given Dembele exactly that.
What’s more, at 24 years of age there has definitely been signs of the player beginning to mature, both in a footballing and personal sense.
Still some way from his supposed peak years as a player there will be much more to come from Dembele, and up until recently it was thought that those would be at Camp Nou. Indeed, the image above from the player’s Instagram account hinted at his intentions.
However, just like as happened at Dortmund when he wanted to join Barca, things have taken a turn for the worst.
If rumours are to be believed, Dembele’s head has been turned again by his agent who is, reportedly, demanding a €40m signing on fee for his client and a salary of €40m a year.
His bargaining chip, apparently, is that the club can afford it seeing as how they retain an interest in signing Erling Haaland in the summer, which, for what it’s worth, is still my opinion as to why Leo Messi was allowed to leave in the first place.
The key role that Ousmane Dembélé can have in Xavi’s setup is becoming clear. Xavi wants his wingers to really stretch the pitch high & wide and that plays into Dembélé’s strengths with his superb 1v1 play off both feet. It was Barca’s main source of chance creation vs Sevilla.— Premier League Panel (@PremLeaguePanel) December 21, 2021
Anyhow, I digress.
Interest in the Frenchman from the Premier League seems real enough, so the club need to make a decision.
Given the current financial predicament, they can’t dilly-dally on this one, going back and forth and wasting precious time in the transfer market.
The club have made their offer, and should stick to it. There isn’t any point in breaking the bank and Barca will always be bigger than any individual. Particularly one that’s played less than half of the games available to him and now has his agent holding a gun, metaphorically speaking, to Laporta’s head.
He can absolutely be important for the new Barcelona that Xavi is aiming to construct, but, again, if there’s a perceived unwillingness to commit - immediately - then the club have no option but to wash their hands.
The only remaining issue is whether they’ll be able to command a fee for him in January, or have to keep him in situ until the end of the campaign, which would be a highly unsatisfactory arrangement.