Another name which has recently been linked to Chelsea is young French winger Ousmane Dembele, who currently plays for FC Barcelona. While the fan base is divided (as ever) on this transfer going through, I belong to the side which believes that we should be all over him. He has not been a major success as one might’ve anticipated following his 105 million euro move from Dortmund, but the 37 million price quoted by several media outlets is too good to overlook. Reports have also emerged that the Spanish giants would be happy for him to go out on loan instead of a permanent deal, and this makes the fruit even sweeter.
Ousmane Dembele is a French international, and at just 23 years of age, he has a lot to offer. He is a fantastic dribbler, possesses pace, and has that pass to cut through the opposition in his locker. He is also ambipedal- yes that’s a word- and is one of the most two footed players in the game. Just take a look at this interview from his time at Rennes:
For me, he is the complete package, and his time at Dortmund exemplifies this. Arguably, Dembele’s time at Die Schwarzgelb , however brief, was better than the season Jadon Sancho is currently producing. After all, Barcelona broke their transfer record to lure the Frenchman away from Signal Iduna Park, and tasked him with replacing Neymar, who joined PSG for a world record 222 million euros. However, it was not the start he was hoping for, as he injured his hamstring in his first start for the club, and was ruled out for four months. This trend has continued for three years now and hence Dembele is ridiculed by football fans, of rival clubs and his own alike. He is undeniably blessed with raw talent, as Rennes’ sporting director Mikael Silvestre claimed all the way back in 2016, when he compared the 19 year old to Ronaldo when he just arrived at Manchester United from Portugal. The winger’s move to Dortmund unfurled in the best manner possible, as he contributed to 10 goals and 21 assists and made 49 appearances in his first and only season in Germany (excluding the DFL Supercup appearance in the next season where he picked up an assist). His partnership with striker Aubameyang and Reus made them one of the deadliest trios in the world.
Despite Dembele making just 74 appearances across three full seasons for Barcelona, he has contributed to 19 goals and another 17 assists, which is impressive considering he was a substitute on most occasions, and also nearly never fully fit. The last part of the aforementioned sentence is the major problem, as he has missed a staggering 97 games through injury over three seasons, which is 23 more than the number of appearances he has made for the club altogether. This figure has resulted in several fans questioning whether he has a hamstring left at all, as a majority of these absences are attributable to an injury to the same particular muscle. A part of the problem could be that he was rushed back to fitness in a bid to get the fans back on his side, which has led to the aggravation of the injury. However, if the trend continues for three years, then one must start questioning his strength and durability.
However, injuries are not the only issue with Dembele, as he has recently been involved in several off field incidents as well. He has been fined by his club for turning up late to training as well as breaking direct orders and going partying before important clashes. Such disciplinary issues will not be tolerated by Frank Lampard and his military regime (should we sign him), as we have seen players who oppose him get dropped for a considerable period of time. This could go two ways- either he gets inspired by the other youngsters around him and their professionalism, or just stops caring and put his high-rated career in jeopardy. According to the Barcelona fans, he has already reached the latter phase, and most of them believe that he will never reach the potential he once was touted to achieve. But, I do not believe that, and I reckon a change in environment at greener pastures could help him. At the Camp Nou he was driven into replacing Neymar immediately, and probably succumbed to the pressure. However, at Chelsea, that will not be the case. With Ziyech’s arrival and the tying up of Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic on long term deals, Dembele would not have much pressure on his shoulders to succeed instantly. He can take his time, make his recovery, and play the role of the fourth choice winger until he feels fit enough to take up a more important position. We see flashes of his brilliance every time he features, and I believe that Lampard could finally unlock his unfulfilled potential. A loan with option to buy deal could be struck with Barcelona, and this is low risk transfer; we can sign him for a cheap fee if he is a success, or send him back to his parent club when his loan expires if he does not improve.