Ousmane Dembele has given a very rare interview to UEFA ahead of Barcelona’s Champions League tie where he’s talked about his physical problems, captain Lionel Messi and the upcoming game against Paris Saint-Germain.
The Frenchman is enjoying a good season for Barcelona after finally returning to fitness and looks set to play on Tuesday night as Ronald Koeman’s men go in search of a place in the quarter-finals.
Here’s what he’s had to say:
Dembele on PSG
There will be revenge in the air due to the media trying to spice up things. However, we don’t talk about it in the squad because we know it’ll be a difficult game. We know Paris, they are the current Champions League runners-up. They’re amongst the favorites to win the trophy.
Dembele on Messi
Leo is a genius, we all know about him, he’s a genius, he’s the best player in the history of football. He inspired me when I was young, he inspires me now and it’s honestly an honor for me to play alongside him.
As I said I’m proud and honored. Being a Barcelona fan since I was a child, playing alongside the best player in the club’s history is extraordinary. On top of that, I feel it’s easy to play with him. He always finds the right pass, he tries to put you in the best position. He is an outstanding player. There will only ever be one player like that in football.
Dembele on physical issues
Physically I think when I came here I was very frail. Even when I was starting out professionally at Stade Rennais and Borussia Dortmund, I was very frail, but I’ve come on a long way here at Barcelona with the physical trainers. My way of training, my way of preparing for matches, it’s all changed.
Dembele on advice he’s received
Advice on positions, especially, advice on positioning, when to attack, when to calm the game down, when to play a pass, it’s mostly these things. I like dribbling, I like to go forward all by myself when I’ve got the ball, so sometimes they tell me to calm down, to play the ball back, to wait for a team-mate and not to always try to dribble past 3 or 4 players.
Dembele on Barca under Koeman
Especially in terms of training and preparing for games. A lot has changed. Physically we feel really good. Even the training sessions are quality and high intensity too. So everyone’s happy and I think that the team is in top shape.
And honestly, the way that he manages the squad on a personal level is great. Everyone’s happy with his arrival and the work that he’s doing and we’re going to keep on going. We’re halfway through the season, we have goals and we will do our best to win titles.