Signing Ousmane Dembele Has Been One Of Barcelona’s Biggest Blunders — Opinion

Ousmane Dembele has failed to justify his price tag at Barcelona
Ousmane Dembele has failed to justify his price tag at Barcelona

In August 2017, Barcelona splurged around $148 million to sign Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund. Having sold Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for a world-record $243.4 million, the Blaugrana were flush with cash at the time and were not afraid to experiment.

The France international wasted no time showing his potential, but his lackluster attitude regularly got in the way. He was often criticized for having little discipline, for not giving his body enough respect, and for his poor work ethic. Lack of care and poor luck eventually combined, turning Dembele into an injury-prone sportsman.

In his debut season, he featured in only 23 games for Barcelona in all competitions, scoring four times and claiming eight assists. At full flight, he was close to unstoppable, but his flights came few and far between. Things did change for the better in the 2018-19 season, with him scoring 14 times and providing eight assists for Barcelona in 42 games that term. But the 2019-20 season threw a spanner in the works.

Muscular and hamstring injuries caused him to miss the majority of the games that season, with him only appearing in nine games in all competitions, scoring once.

Xavi’s appointment in 2021 worked in Dembele’s favor, as the Spaniard seemingly found a way to make full use of the Frenchman’s breakneck pace and impressive distribution. Under Xavi, Dembele played 66 games across the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons, scoring 10 times and providing 22 assists.

Xavi hurt by Ousmane Dembele’s decision to leave Barcelona

Just as things had started to turn, rumors linked the 26-year-old with a move to PSG. Following Barcelona’s 1-0 win over AC Milan in Tuesday’s (August 1) pre-season friendly, a disappointed Xavi confirmed the speculation, stating that Dembele wished to join the Parisians.

Speaking to the press, Xavi said (via BBC Sport):

“I will be very clear. He has been very direct, that he has a proposal from Paris St-Germain, that they have called him from there and here we cannot do anything. That is why he has not played today.

“It hurts me because I think we have taken great care of him here so that he is happy and content and continues to make a difference for us.”

According to transfer guru Fabrizio Romano, PSG have activated a private clause to sign Dembele, which would see the player move to the Parc des Princes for a $54.9 million fee this summer. It is expected that the deal would be finalized by the end of the week.

Six years after Dembele’s ill-fated transfer from Borussia Dortmund, it is safe to say that the gamble has not paid off for Barcelona. The Frenchman has only scored 40 times in 185 appearances in all competitions, failing to justify his astronomical price tag.

PSG boss Luis Enrique will look to build on Xavi’s work and try to get the best out of the 26-year-old. It will be interesting to see if he manages to finally unlock the winger’s undeniable potential.

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