‘Ungrateful’ Ousmane Dembélé will return to anger at Barcelona

Ousmane Dembélé (26) will return to FC Barcelona for the first time since signing for Paris Saint-Germain in August of last year.

In six seasons and 185 games for the Blaugrana, the Frenchman scored 40 goals and provided 43 assists, but it is fair to say that his tenure in Spain’s second city was marked by one consistent: Inconsistency. 

As with so many players in world football, the consensus is that Dembélé’s price tag (105M€ plus 40M€ in bonuses) to sign him from Borussia Dortmund weighed heavily on the players shoulders, burdened with the inflated expectations that invariably come with such a deal.

Of course, the player’s at times unprofessional lifestyle didn’t help his cause, with regular reports in Spanish media telling of his punctuality issues in arriving to training due to staying up late to play video games. This, and frequent injuries that may or may not have been linked to his behaviour off the field, saw fans patience wear thin. 

Despite his erratic form and frequent absences, Dembélé retained huge support from Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez and enjoyed some fruitful spells of form. In 2021/2022, the Frenchman was the best passer in La Liga, with 13 assists in 21 appearances making the campaign his best statistically.

Although the player-coach relationship was excellent, the relationship between the ex-Stade Rennais man’s representatives and the Barcelona board was less so, with then Director of Football Mateu Alemany announcing that Démbélé had to leave in January 2022 after refusing to sign a contract extension. Once again, it was down to Xavi to calm things down, mediating between the two parties to come to an agreement of a two year extension with a 50M€ release clause inserted. 

And so we come to Tuesday night. Spanish media has already ramped up the anti-Dembélé rhetoric ahead of the game, with Catalan newspaper Sport declaring the Frenchman “Undeserving of a demonstration of estimation from the Barca supporters. For being ungrateful, to Xavi and to the club. He decided to betray his strongest supporter, who convinced the sporting department to renew his contract whilst the player had zero offers elsewhere”. 

All of this, as well as the Frenchman leaving in the middle of the club’s pre season tour last summer having previously made noises about wanted to further extend his contract, adds even more spice and intrigue to a contest that, on and off the field, scarcely requires further hype. Having celebrated his goal in last week’s first leg, Dembélé would be wise to expect a glacial reception at Montjuic. 

GFFN | Jack McArdle

 

 

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