Ousmane Dembélé -European Golden Boy

What Ousmane Dembélé brings to Barcelona

Forget the hype and fee, Ousmane Dembélé is pure talent. Bought as a replacement for Neymar, the 20-year-old could go on to become far more important to Barcelona than his predecessor.

European clubs have literally gone crazy these days when it comes to the transfer market. In just the space of three weeks, Paul Pogba’s world record fee has been smashed twice. First, by Neymar and now Dembélé. For the Frenchman, it’s been an absolutely unimaginable two years. From playing for Rennes in the Ligue 1, he’s now the second most expensive player in history.

“He is quick, skillful and we hope he will be able to bring a lot to the team,” said Barcelona boss, Ernesto Valverde. “He is a player who guarantees offensive depth, the depth that we have lost and that we need.”  Valverde views his newest acquisition as the perfect replacement for Neymar. But in the real sense, the youngster could even offer more than the Paris Saint-Germain man.

When you think of Dembélé, the first thing that jumps out at you is his sheer skill with the ball at his feet. His astonishing dribbling skills and drive are simply phenomenal. Last season he completed 105 take-ons, more than any other player in the Bundesliga. In a Barcelona team which places great emphasis on possession, his ability to wreck defences by drawing out makers and then ducking past them will be essential.

Dembélé isn’t just exceptional with the ball, he’s also thunderously fast with lightning pace. A huge asset for the Blaugrana especially in counter-attacks. The way he flashes past defenders, penetrating with ease and then laying off passes for his teammates is a joy to behold. In the Bundesliga the last term, only one player attempted more through-balls than the Frenchman. Threading the eye of a needle is what Barcelona excel at. They attempted and completed more through-balls than any other Spanish side. More reason Dembélé would feel right at home, knowing he will have that license to do his thing.

But perhaps, the trait which places him way above Neymar is his ability to shot with either foot. While the Brazilian occasionally rattles off spectacular finishes with his left foot, Dembélé is genuinely gifted with both. Since his debut for Rennes in 2015, the youngster has notched about 11 goals with his right foot and seven from his left. In terms of assists, he has laced eight with his right and three more with his left. Such exceptional quality would make him an unreal asset to his new team.

For all his skills, Dembélé doesn’t seem to score too many goals; 18 in two seasons is obviously no match for Neymar or any of Barca’s superstar forwards. However, the 20-year-old has proven that, on certain occasions, he could take the reign and lead his side. He did so when France defeated England in a friendly in June where he provided an assist as well as notching the winner himself. He stepped up once again on the big stage by putting Borussia Dortmund in front in the DFB-Pokal final last season.

So in Dembélé, Barca have got themselves a player who won’t try to steal the spotlight from Lionel Messi like Neymar. Rather, he will complement the Argentine by occasionally taking up the mantle. On those rare occasions where the Argentine may be having a bad day at work or drops deeper to midfield, expect the 20-year-old to be the reference point for attacks in the final third.

About the Author Toby

An unrepentant soccer freak other freaks call geek.

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