Dembele has the world at his feet. Barcelona, Manchester United and even Real Madrid are interested in the pacey French winger, who has set the Bundesliga alight.
The French media often compare Dembele to Mbappe, who both have just one season under their belt in their respective league, but have each performed strikingly well, earning plaudits for both their pace and clinical edge, leading to rumours of mega-money moves.
Dortmund signed Dembele last summer, the winger signing a five-year contract following his move from Rennes, after scoring 12 goals in 25 Ligue 1 games and providing five assists. His top class and week in week out performances was the reason that he was voted the best young player in France.
Last summer, there was an approach from Barcelona, but he chose to sign for Borussia Dortmund in part for the increased first-team opportunities. However, there were little signs that he could see a future in Spain.
He stated in an interview last year, “Not now because I have to be a protagonist every Sunday to grow,” Dembele commented. “But someday I’ll play at Barca.”
Discussions with Barca
Bild claim Barcelona technical director Robert Fernandez has been in discussions with the 20-year-old’s representatives and reached an agreement for him to join, with just a fee needed to be finalised between the two clubs.
According to France Football, Dortmund want £79m for the exciting youngster, who contributed ten goals and eighteen assists to the Bundesliga side’s campaign last season.
The speculation from France Football of the price tag for Dembele could potentially be true, as Borussia Dortmund have reportedly told Barcelona they’ll have to pay £79 million to seal the transfer of Manchester United target Ousmane Dembele.
The 20-year-old from the north of France was sensational for Les Bleus, but his calibre of performance will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched him play for Rennes and Borussia Dortmund these last two seasons.
Dembele’s strengths – at such a raw age, what are his talents that have caught the eye of many?
In 2016/17 he completed 105 take-ons in the Bundesliga, top in Germany and ninth across all Europe’s top five leagues.
If that doesn’t sound too incredible consider that the next-highest Bundesliga player is Naby Keita down in 22nd who as we all know was the driving force behind RB Leipzig’s second spot finish granting them Champions League action.
Being a protagonist
If Barcelona do secure the signature of Dembele, he would play on the right of Barcelona’s attacking trio MSN. This may have confused some people, as Messi plays there currently for Barcelona and had a fantastic season.
But should he? Messi is now at the stage of his career where his importance as a playmaker is too strong to plant him on the right of attack.
New Barça boss Ernesto Valverde has said he’ll look at Messi’s position and decide what’s best, but clearly if Dembele does sign then what is best is for Messi to play as a no. 10 behind a front three.
This creates a role and a starting place on the right-wing for Dembele, who has constantly gained assists from interplay and goals from the counter attack, mainly cutting inside or driving into the box.
Last season when Barcelona played 3-3-1-3 they did so in a broken way, because Rafinha filled in at right-wing and was utterly hopeless there. Opponents could leave him in acres of space, because they knew he didn’t have the mentality and skill to penetrate them, whereas Dembele offers an abundance.
The young Frenchman is a skilled ‘protagonist,’ for example, he is comfortable taking control, which is rare for someone who has only turned twenty last month.
Against England, it was Dembélé that French playmaker extraordinaire Paul Pogba kept looking for to lead their breaks. He constantly tortured Kyle Walker, a player who normally matches and dominates his opponent.
You know how Kyle Walker is unquestionably one of the fastest players in the Premier League? How he rarely gets done for pace?
Well, if you witnessed the France-England and skip to around 66 minutes you will see how Dembele twists and turns Walker and sends him to Tesco’s to buy him a meal deal and back.
Moreover, pace can be a defensive weapon. The sheer speed on either flank would terrify opposing full-backs about leaving themselves exposed, nullifying their forward runs.
Neymar and Jordi Alba have shown repeatedly this season how sheer pace allows you to make covering runs defensively with Jordi Alba’s high-high work rate and Neymar’s low-high rate.
The concluding factors
It remains to be seen if Barcelona will pay that kind of money to strengthen a position where they already have Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez to choose from, but they seem set on winning the race for his signature.
Written by Giovan Hayer
Follow Giovan on Twitter @GiovanH
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