Barcelona’s transfer policy hasn’t exactly been in the good books of too many people over the years. Their hunt for superstar signings is well-known and a lot of the criticism is deserved too. In the case of Ousmane Dembele, it is a bit of both. The Frenchman’s recent injury is certainly another blow to the player’s hopes.
Dembele is now out for the rest of the season. With Barcelona also without Luis Suarez for a majority of the second half of the season, they could have a problem on their hands. The club also sold Carles Perez to Roma in January, leaving them with even lesser options. But it is Dembele’s situation that is alarming.
Since joining Barca in the summer of 2017 from Borussia Dortmund, Dembele is now expected to miss 76 games in total. That is two seasons out of the total three he’s been with the club. His spell at the club has seen the player contribute to 36 goals in just 74 appearances. That isn’t a bad number at all, but the real issues lie elsewhere too.
Dembele has always been known to have attitude issues. When his own teammate in Suarez has already talked about it in the open, it is clear that these issues are genuine.
Suarez said (via Partidazo de Cope): “I think he should concentrate mainly on football, and be inspired by the examples of professionalism in the Barça dressing room.”
There have been multiple examples of Dembele getting stick from his own teammates for not being a good influence in the dressing room. His former chef Mikael Naya also spoke of it in an interview with Le Parisien (via Sport):
“Ousmane is a good guy but he doesn’t have control of his life. He lives with his uncle and his best friend, who don’t dare say anything to him. It’s a crazy life. I’ve never seen him drink alcohol but he doesn’t respect his rest times, there’s no professional structure around him.
“I tried to organise the meals for the upcoming matches, in his recovery time and it was going well. But to start, when he’s with his friends, Ousmane is completely different. He’s curious, open and polite.”
And these aren’t issues that he’s been creating at the Nou Camp-based side only. When he left Borussia Dortmund, he had trashed the house that Jurgen Klopp lived in- the one that the club had given him. Goal have also reported that he’s got a gaming addiction and he doesn’t bother much about proper nutrition either.
There was public knowledge about this during his time in Germany. Barca still made the deal go through as Dembele replaced an iconic figure like Neymar. The monumental transfer fee is never a help. And that fault was on Barcelona. But the manner in which Dembele’s problems continue to persist is a reflection of how despite three years having passed, he’s become the character that the club wants.
Whether the injuries are his fault or not isn’t for anyone to discuss. But the player’s immense potential has not been met by how he’s behaved since arriving. He’s yet to fulfil the €147 million price tag and with mounting injury and other issues, Barcelona can’t afford to accumulate too many losses.
He’s not showing enough promise on and off the pitch to stay at the club for longer than he would have thought in the beginning. His current deal runs out in the summer of 2022 and his value will only decrease from around 2021 onwards. For a player who is still 22, Barcelona can still cut ties and sell him at the right time.