WINGER – 20 – FRANCE – BORUSSIA DORTMUND
Image from metro.co.uk
The Neymar move was always going to have a side effect with regards to transfers, and it appears the first domino to fall is Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembélé. Barcelona are desperately looking for a replacement for their former Brazilian superstar, especially with rivals Real Madrid looking stronger and stronger every year, but it looks like they’ve found their man in the 20 year-old, who has had a whirlwind of a time in the last couple of seasons. A deal in reportedly in place for Dembélé to become the second most expensive signing in history, with the figure set to be well over €100 million.
After coming through the Rennes’ youth academy, Dembélé’s big break for the French club’s first team was in the 2015/16 season where he scored a stunning 12 goals in 26 league games. That form did not go unnoticed as he was snatched up by Dortmund last summer for around €15 million. And last campaign, he hit double figures yet again in the goal-scoring charts from the right side of midfield, in a season where he played 50 games for the German side. He has yet to feature this season due to the ongoing speculation, but has 7 caps for the French national side, and scored the winner against England in a 3-2 friendly victory in June.
Where will he fit in at Barcelona?
With Luis Suarez set to be out of the Barcelona side for another month due to injury, expect Dembélé to initially take up his position on the right hand side, with Barcelona returnee Gerard Deulofeu supporting Lionel Messi up front.
However, when the Uruguayan returns to the side, the Catalans may adapt their formation to suit Dembélé, to more of a 4-2-3-1, with Messi playing as a number 10, very similar to the role that Sergi Roberto is currently playing behind the Argentinian at the moment. It’s very difficult to envisage the Frenchman playing on the left hand side, opposite Messi, and it’s evident that Dembélé is very much the second choice signing, after the Catalans missed out on signing Coutinho from Liverpool.
How will Barcelona fare this season?
At the moment, they’re miles behind Real Madrid, who have an excellent mix of youth and world-class talent in their side at the moment. The Spanish and European champions have a clear first XI with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema amongst their ranks, but can also call upon the service of Isco, Mateo Kovacic and the very impressive Marco Asensio with regards to squad depth. There hasn’t been a real marquee signing at Camp Nou for a good few years now, and even the infamous La Masia academy is failing to provide any youngster of world class potential anymore. The fact that they’ve had to recall Deulofeu from Everton shows that the resources are drying up, and spending over €100 million on a player is very much against the Barcelona philosophy. A lot of work needs to be done if Barca want to challenge on multiple fronts this season.
Chances of this signing happening: 8/10
Even the Dortmund officials have announced that a deal is edging closer with Barcelona, showing that their resolve with Dembélé is not as strong as Liverpool’s over Coutinho. It might not be done my the weekend, but certainly by the deadline in a week’s time.
Will this be a good signing? – 8/10
He’s quick, tenacious and a goal-scorer. La Liga defenders will be terrified coming up against him and provides a different dimension to Barcelona’s attack. His pace in behind will force teams to drop even deeper against the Catalans, and that will play right into Barca’s hands.