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Dembele drama done for good

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It is never a dull day with Barcelona. Ever since the arrival of Joan Laporta as President, the revelations of the misdeeds of the previous regimes along with the current financial difficulties have been there for the world to see. They had to let go of Lionel Messi, ask their most senior players to take pay cuts in order to balance books, send fringe players out on loan so new signings could be registered and got knocked out of the Copa del Rey last night.


However, to their credit, the latest issue causing headlines is a new kind. Ousmane Dembele, out of contact in the summer, and the board are at serious odds with each other regarding a new deal and the Frenchman’s immediate future. Xavi has time and again asked Dembele to stay for the long-term but it is not as easy. Dembele has rejected the temptations to sign, indicating that he wants more money than the club are willing to offer currently. The whole ordeal has played out in public with the latest chapter coming yesterday.


Director Alemany bluntly said that Dembele has no faith in the club’s project and along with his agent, have no desire either to sign a new contract. Alemany followed it up making it clear that he has to leave Camp Nou this month and will not be selected for future matches. Dembele, for his part, hit out at allegations on social media, writing that he is “not a man who cheats and even less a man who has a habit of giving in to blackmail. As you know, there are negotiations. I let my agent handle it, it’s his turf.“


He ended the statement he just wants to play and win. With no end in sight at present, will Dembele not extending his stay be such a big loss for Barcelona?


To say Dembele has missed matches during his four-and-a-half years stay would be a severe understatement. Till his last outing so far against Granada this month, Demebele has started a grand total of 58 matches in La Liga since 2017, with 18 goals and 16 assists. The nadir was the 2019-20 season, where could appear five times in the league, a career low as he was beset with injuries.


The fragility of Dembele will always be a question mark for any club that wants to sign him, and his dubious fitness record is in itself a hindrance for the Catalans. More often than not, managers have had to rely on other attackers during key matches, which was certainly not what the hierarchy had in mind when they signed him. Barcelona, flush with the money from selling Neymar, paid £135m to Borussia Dortmund where he had had just one good season in truth.


Dortmund definitely got the better end of the deal, with Dembele immediately under pressure to deliver. He had the flashy style to beat defenders and score from distance, cross superbly, technical skills, the works but Barcelona never got to see them for long or in a sustained manner. It is suffice to say that the transfer has not worked out ideally for either party, and the humongous fee involved definitely makes it one of the worst deals in the history of the club.



Given the fact that Dembele spends so much of his time on the sidelines, replacing him in the team has always been a necessity. In the current squad as well, there are some very exciting options for Xavi to choose from. The manager has certainly backed the young talents to the hilt, and they are now starting the majority of Barcelona’s games. Abdessamad Ezzalzouli, Ilias Akhomach, Ferran Jutgla, Ansu Fati, and new signing Ferran Torres have all been deployed across the frontline.


Abdi Ez, in particular, has been the favourite for Dembele’s wide right attacking position and recently scored his first senior goal too. Though Dembele has got his chances in the lineup before this whole incident happened, his place is by no means guaranteed. His minimal impact, when on the pitch over the years, has not helped matters either, and there will be few who miss him from the lineup if he does finally end up leaving.

This is why the Blaugrana’s insistence to have him commit for the future is a surprise, as they should currently focus on developing their teenagers through increased gametime.



The most obvious question mark over the proposed Dembele renewal was always going to be regarding how capable he might be to participate heavily in the future. The fact that the first contract given to him has been widely held as a mistake, Barcelona would do well to steer clear of a similar mistake this time. Granted Xavi has felt good vibes from him during his time, the former midfielder hardly speaks ill of anyone.


Having just got back from injury in the latter months of last year, Dembele has a notorious record of picking up injuries quickly as evidenced at the Euros. In these difficult financial conditions, they can ill afford any money tied up in players with less than a certain future of playing regularly. Though it will be hard to offload Dembele if his wage demands are not decreased. It can become a mighty uncomfortable situation for both club and player if the matter is not resolved amicably soon.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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