There’s always been chatter surrounding Ousmane Dembele, and some of it not too complimentary.
In this column previously, I’ve certainly been guilty of dwelling on the more negative aspects of his game.
But credit where it’s due.
The Frenchman has done a real job of late of shutting mouths. Including my own. Or at least shutting down any talk of the lightning fast wide man not being world class.
It’s abundantly clear that when Dembele is ‘on it,’ there aren’t many defenders that can live with him.
Yes, a little polish to his end product wouldn’t go amiss at times, but now isn’t the time to dissect that area of his game.
Much more preferable is to look at the improvement to his attitude, general demeanour and way of working of late.
Though the support and backing of Xavi Hernandez will have clearly been a real boon for the player, his own willingness to put his terrible start at Barca behind him can’t be overlooked. The reasons for the same appear obvious too.
“There has been three difficult seasons with Barcelona,” Dembele said recently.
“When you look at the first two games [I played in] 2018 and this year there is a lot of difference.
“I have matured. I didn’t have a healthy lifestyle as you can imagine, [though] it wasn’t a party! But I’m a little older now, [at] 25.”
Indeed, his performances for both club and country are more consistently excellent and that bodes well.
In two years’ time, Dembele will, theoretically, be at or approaching his peak. It bodes the genuine question as to just how much better he can get because he’s already unplayable in most games.
“He has improved with the day-to-day demands of Barcelona. I see him in a much better place,” France coach, Didier Deschamps, said.
“The fact he started the first game is proof he has the incredible ability to damage opposing defences. I see him more mature and complete.”
Given how well Les Bleus have been playing in Qatar, it isn’t a stretch to believe that France could well retain their World Cup title on December 18.
Even going deep into the competition will be seen as a positive, and we should expect Ousmane Dembele to hit the ground running upon his return to Catalonia, spearheading Barca’s charge towards the league title.