Ousmane Dembélé Leaves Barcelona For PSG: Where Does This Leave The Catalan Side?
I remember vividly like it was yesterday, clicking a YouTube video from ‘JavierNathaniel’ (a football highlight channel) of a video titled ‘Ousmane Dembélé – Skills & Goals 2016/2017’. After watching the clip I was left thinking that this player could do it all. Left foot, right foot, pace, pass, finish and the ability to take players on. Soon after on 25th August 2017, FC Barcelona paid €145m to Borussia Dortmund for the french winger making him the most expensive Barca signing ever at the time.
And now six years, 185 appearances, 15 injuries and seven trophies later, Ousmane Dembélé has decided to move to Paris and join PSG for a €50m, five-year deal.
How Did Negotiations Start?
Back in June, Dembélé told Spanish paper MARCA: “It’s going very well. Barcelona want me to renew until 2027, and my representative will talk to them. I am happy at the team, also at home, in Barcelona. So we’ll see what happens.”
He even went on to kill any rumours of a potential move by adding: “I don’t know why there’s been so much talk about PSG. It must be because I’m French.” That didn’t age well.
While the 26-year-old and Barca were arranging a potential renewal as his current deal with the club ends in 2024, PSG publicly came out and announced that Kylian Mbappe was up for sale as the star told the club he was not renewing his contract. That sparked interest from the Parisian outfit to bring in Ousmane Dembélé via triggering his €50m release clause.
Further rumours from L’Équipe that PSG boss, Nasser Al Khelaifi, reached out to Barca president, Joan Laporta, about a swap move involving Mbappe for Dembélé and youngster Gavi, unsettled the former and his camp.
What Is Barcelona Saying?
Barcelona captain, Sergi Roberto has also expressed his feelings towards his ex teammates move saying: “It’s a shame because he’s a very important player for us.”
Continuing to say: “We are a little disappointed. When you love someone and want them to be with you, it’s a little disappointing when they decide to go somewhere else. It’s a job and everyone decides what’s best for them, for their career and for their family. He will have his reasons, but we have given him everything here and he knows he is an important player for us.”
Barca manager, Xavi, recently came out and said: “We cannot compete with the proposal that they’ve (PSG) made to him, it’s out of our reach.”
Reports suggest however that the key factor for Dembélé’s move was not a financial one but, but a work related one. According to AS, the Frenchman told Xavi that he wanted to compete in a “healthy environment.”
What Does This Mean For Barca Going Forward?
Ousmane Dembélé’s departure will not affect the squad massively, despite him having a fairly good season for the blue and red, making 35 caps, 8 goals and 11 assists, as Xavi has other wingers to count on and who now have a chance to prove to him they deserve a place in the starting line up.
Players such as Ferran Torres have been enjoying a good preseason, although last year he struggled to get into the squad, he has netted twice for Barca against Arsenal and rivals Real Madrid which will be promising signs for Xavi ahead of the new season.
Raphinha earned his place in Xavi’s squad by putting up an impressive first season in LaLiga. The Brazilian scored 10 goals, 12 assists in 50 appearances – showing how Xavi relies heavily on the ex Leeds player.
Abde Ezzalzouli, made his mark on loan to Osasuna last season where he became a frequent starter for Jagoba Arrasate’s side by putting up a respectable 6 goals and 2 assists in 34 appearances, helping the side finish 7th in the table. Now the Moroccan has the opportunity to realise his potential back in a Barca shirt this season.
Barca’s number 10, Ansu Fati, appreciated a full season without injury last year but was still not on top of the pecking order for Xavi, however that could change this season as the Spanish coach has come out and said after their friendly match against AC Milan, where Fati scored, that, “The goal will do him a lot of good to gain confidence.”
“Ansu has a sense of goal and in the final third, he is a key player. Today we won because of his goal”, added Xavi.
A player who has been in people’s mouths recently and who is a bit of a wildcard is 16-year-old, Lamine Yamal. Back in July he was named for Xavi’s squad against Atlético de Madrid when he was just 15-years-old and has made two appearances in preseason so far impressing the manager.
Xavi now has some thinking to do involving his squad as preseason draws to a close, and so does Barcelona as they part ways with what some consider the worst signing the club has ever made. The transfer market in Spain doesn’t close until 1st September, therefore Laporta and the board will be looking to offload certain players before bringing new additions.