Despite off the pitch concerns, Dembele is hitting top gear on the pitch
At Dortmund, French international Ousmane Dembele became one of the most impressive and highly talented young forwards. Arriving from Rennes as a teenager, he only needed a year to solidify his position among the world’s most exciting youths. With a left like right foot that even leaves him confused as to what his favorite footballing foot is, Dembele combined with a distant African brother, Aubameyang, teeing up the latter more times than one and setting him up for the Bundesliga top goal scorer award in the 2016/17 season. The son of African parents, inevitably earned a precious move to Barcelona worth over 100 million euros to replace the departing Neymar. He looked the sensible option and logic argued why he could fill the big shoes.
Actually, logic initially got it wrong. He wasn’t an immediate success. Injuries and the bigger club with more demanding fans seemingly got the better of him. The 2017/18 La Liga season was almost a complete fiaso for the young forward. He spent most of it on the sidelines or on Ernesto Valvedre’s bench, eventually falling out of favour in the French squad, making minimal appearances in Les Blues’ world cup winning squad. He really wasn’t living up to the Neymar standards and the arrival of Phillippe Coutinho in January from Liverpool, meant a “new Neymar” had arrived and the spotlight temporarily removed from the boy of Malian roots. It was so bad that talks of a possible move away from the Camp Nou in the summer were fueled by Arsenal supposed interest in the forward and the arrival of former Bordeaux and Brazilian young forward, Malcolm. Of course the move didn’t happen but there was more to come.
Quite recently, with the keen eye of the media on the 21-year-old still coming to terms with becoming an adult and being a global celebrity, news surfaced day in and out. Late night gaming, poor eating habits and arriving late at the training ground all became a part of the young adult’s life. He also seemed like he couldn’t care less and the once upon a time comparison between him and his age mates such as Mbappe, slowly became a distant memory.
Most recently and even more interesting, news of his off the pitch showings is yet to completely cease, but Dembele has started to show why he remains one of the most talented young forwards in the game. A last minute well taken Ousmane goal against Atletico Madrid coming from bench earned the Catalan club a precious draw at Wanda Metro Politano and the devastating run from the other half of the pitch against Tottenham in the champions league leading to the match’s opening goal resemble what the French international is becoming. A game decider with the legs of youth and the composure of a patriarch nearing retirement. Suddenly, a silver lining is evidently present in the midst of Dembele’s seemingly dark clouds.
More is surely yet come and Barcelona would be unwise to let this gem go anytime soon.