Forget the persistent injuries, on his day Ousmane Dembele is an absolute talent. He can add quality to Chelsea’s seemingly withering attack if he manages to stand on his feet.
Dembele’s once shinning career has been blighted by injuries. Considered as Neymar’s successor at Barcelona, the Frenchman failed to live up to the hype, a shadow of the prodigy that joined from Borussia Dortmund, which was witnessed by all including Ace Pokies at the time.
In 2017, Barca paid €147m for the then 20-year-old, representing 66 per cent of the world record €222m the Catalans received from Paris Saint-Germain for Neymar. It clearly showed how much the Spanish giants trusted the attacker. Who wouldn’t?
At 20, he possessed the Brazilian’s dribbling ability, open-field pace and predatory instinct. He was a rough diamond. Aside from goals, he bettered Neymar for assists and key passes. But after over four years, the 24-year-old is already surplus to requirement at the Camp Nou.
Dembele has had 14 different knocks since his move to Spain. He has missed over 100 matches, an equivalent of about two-and-half La Liga seasons. In this campaign alone, the Frenchman has not featured in 18 games.
With his contract set to expire this summer, he has been in a transfer tussle with Barcelona. Xavi’s side has decided to let the winger go, claiming his agent had frustrated negotiations.
“With Ousmane and his agent we began [contract] conversations around July so it’s been six months and a bit,” Barcelona’s director of football Mateu Alemany said this week.
“We’ve talked, we’ve talked, we’ve talked. Barca has made different offers. We’ve tried to find a way for the player to continue with us but these offers have been systematically rejected by his agents.
“In this scenario, he and his agents have been informed that he must leave immediately because we want players committed to this project and therefore we hope that a transfer will take place before January 31.”
Reports in France claim Barcelona will demand around £16million for Dembele this month and Chelsea have been linked with a move for the 24-year-old. While the deal appears to be tricky, the Blues should go all out for his services.
Thomas Tuchel still sees Dembele as a player at the “top-level”. And rightly so. Not many wingers in the world can match his pace, brilliance and quality – especially at such a meagre fee.
A real nightmare for opposition full-backs, Dembele is very skilled in dribbling past opponents. Although sometimes his end product is quite disappointing, the Frenchman is always a threat to any side.
His game is based more around being a more creative presence, whether that be from crosses, cutbacks or through balls in the final third. His ability with both feet allows him to play on either wing and makes him somewhat unpredictable as he has the option of cutting inside and shooting, combining with a player in the middle, beating his defender on the flank and putting in a cross from a wide area.
The Frenchman, who loved the games on best nz online casino, is blessed with lightning pace too. In a Chelsea team, this will be a valuable, multivalent asset in the final third in the event that the Blues struggle to break down a stubborn defensive block.
Chelsea have 45 goals in the league this term – not bad going in the grand scheme of things, but they are still some way off the top bracket led by Manchester City and Liverpool, who have nine and 10 more respectively.
Indeed, the Blues have a plethora of options in attack with Hakim Ziyech, Kai Havertz, Romelu Lukaku, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Armando Broja set to come back from loan next season. But Dembele offers a different option.
Tuchel has now tried and tested 11 attacking combinations so far this season to no avail. His former prodigy could inject freshness.
Dembele worked with Tuchel at Dortmund and is understood to still admire the winger despite his injury issues. He is aware that the Frenchman has played just a third of the minutes available over the past four-and-a-half seasons. However, under the tutelage of the German, there could be a revival for the Blues and his career.
Tuchel had this to say, “He’s a very good player, and I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund. It was only one year, it should have been longer, but I needed to leave and he decided to leave.
“We are not in close contact, we have met here and there because of his duties for the French national team when I was in Paris. We exchanged some messages. I have no idea why he is in this situation, I don’t know the detail, so it’s better not to talk.”