Dembele Instead Of Mbappe! Is Barcelona's Biggest Transfer Mistake Finally Coming Good? - 9jaflaver



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Dembele Instead Of Mbappe! Is Barcelona’s Biggest Transfer Mistake Finally Coming Good?




The former Dortmund ace has failed to live to his €105m transfer fee but, after changing his lifestyle, the Frenchman is feeling stronger than ever

Barcelona made a lot of dreadful decisions under Josep Maria Bartomeu. Picking Ousmane Dembele over Kylian Mbappe could well be the worst.

The Blaugrana were left dumbstruck when Neymar sensationally quit Camp Nou in the summer of 2017 to join Paris Saint-Germain, who then sent further shockwaves throughout the football world by signing Mbappe from Monaco on an initial loan deal.

However, according to agent Junior Minguella, Barcelona had a €155 million (£134m/$184m) deal in place to sign Mbappe before he moved to Parc des Princes.

Minguella, though, claims that the Catalans ultimately decided that Borussia Dortmund winger Dembele was “better suited to the team’s style of play”.

When Minguella recounted this story on Radio Marca in February, there was widespread incredulity, so he subsequently produced WhatsApp messages to verify his claims, tweeting: “A gift for the haters and unbelievers.”

It is certainly easy to understand why Barca fans would not want to even entertain the idea that they could have had Mbappe playing alongside Lionel Messi in this season’s Champions League last-16 tie – rather than Dembele.

The outcome would undoubtedly have been very different. Mbappe, after all, scored four times across the two legs; Dembele missed four clear-cut chances.

Wastefulness has arguably been the dominant theme of Dembele’s time at Camp Nou. The €105m (£90m/$125m) signing has plenty in common with his good friend Mbappe: they are both young, French and fast. However, one is significantly more clincial than the other.

Indeed, the enduring image of Dembele’s Barca career to date is of him almost apologetically helping a stunned Messi back to his feet, after missing a chance against Liverpool in the 2019 Champions League semi-finals that the exhausted Argentine had put on a plate for him.

If Dembele had converted that injury-time opening at Camp Nou, the Blaugrana would have travelled to Anfield with a 4-0 first-leg lead. Not even Jurgen Klopp’s ‘mentality giants’ would have believed the tie was still alive.

Dembele has not just let Barca down on the field, though; he has also proven an incredibly frustrating figure off it. There have been repeated instances of tardiness and numerous revelations of an unhealthy, unprofessional lifestyle.

As Goal first reported back in October 2018, Barca even considered cutting their losses on Dembele during the January 2019 transfer window. That he is still at Camp Nou is primarily down to the fact that the Blaugrana were unable to find a buyer, at least not at the price they were demanding.

With just over a year left on his contract, Barca might consider selling him again this summer. There would be no shortage of interested parties looking to take advantage of the Catalans’ financial troubles to sign a talented winger for a knockdown fee.

And that is the thing about Dembele: his potential is both obvious and enormous, which is why Barca would be reluctant to let him go unless a colossal offer arrives. For now, though, Dembele is as likely to sign a new contract as leave.

New president Joan Laporta is a “big fan”, recently telling Gerard Romero on Twitch: “I’ve always come out and spoken in favour of Ousmane. I think he deserves some special treatment because with these genius types of players, you have to look after them. I really like watching Dembele doing so well.”

And he is doing well, lately. Or, at the very least, better, both physically and mentally.

Whereas once Dembele used to binge on fast food while playing computer games until the early hours with his massive entourage, now he has embraced a healthier diet and a healthier routine, thanks to the help of the club and a personal chef.

Consequently, Dembele feels stronger than ever before. “When I came here, I was very frail,” he admitted to UEFA’s official website earlier this year.

“Even when I was starting out professionally at Rennes and Borussia Dortmund, I was very frail, but I’ve come on a long way at Barcelona with the physical trainers. My way of training, my way of preparing for matches, it’s all changed.

“The years go by and I’m growing up, so it’s kind of normal for me to change a bit. I’m more comfortable, I feel good here in Barcelona and in my own life.

“Even though I had three years of little physical problems, those are the challenges of life, and that’s just how it is. You have to face them with a smile.” 

He was beaming ear to ear after netting a crucial 90th-minute winner against Valladolid on Monday night that means Barca go into this weekend’s Clasico just one point behind Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Again, there were plenty of infuriating elements to Dembele’s game, most notably failing to find the back of the net with Barca’s best opening just before the hour mark, after being put in on goal by Messi.

However, he was a constant threat, whether deployed on the right or left flank, given he is a wonderfully two-footed talent. 

It was Dembele’s jinking run which drew the foul that resulted in Oscar Plano’s crucial dismissal with 12 minutes to go, which, in turn, paved the way for the incessant pressure that led to Dembele volleying home left-footed in the dying seconds.

He now has two goals in his last two games and while that might not seem like a lot, it is significant for him. 

There has never been any doubt over Dembele’s ability. Like Laporta, Barca legend Andres Iniesta believes the 23-year-old has “genius” in his feet, Messi believes he can become a “phenomenon”, while the great Luis Figo says Dembele reminds him more of himself than any other winger in the game today.

However, as France boss Didier Deschamps has always pointed out, Dembele’s issues have always been a lack of efficiency and consistency, both of which were wrapped up in his injury issues and unprofessional approach.

Since his last lay-off in December, though, Dembele’s attitude has changed, and now his fortunes are too. He is both playing and contributing regularly.

With 10 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions, he could well better his numbers for his most productive season at Barca to date, 2018-19, when he netted 14 times in 42 outings.

Antoine Griezmann believes his team-mate is reaping the rewards of “taking care of himself”, while coach Ronald Koeman says he “loves” Dembele and wants him to stay at Camp Nou beyond the end of the season.

The key to the Dutchman getting his wish, though, will be Dembele maintaining this upturn in form, and finally delivering when Barca need him most. 

Saturday’s crunch clash with third-placed Real Madrid will, therefore, tell us much about whether Dembele is finally fit, in every sense, to lead his club into a new era. 

Or whether he is destined to be remembered as the flop Barca signed instead of Mbappe.

source:- goal



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