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3 reasons why Barcelona must keep faith in Ousmane Dembele | La Liga 2019-20

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Feature
Modified 05 Feb 2020, 04:27 IST

Barcelona
Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele is out for the rest of the season after suffering another hamstring injury

In devastating news for all involved parties, it was announced today that Barcelona’s French forward Ousmane Dembele – who has not played since November – has suffered a serious hamstring tear upon his return to training. The 22-year old is now set to miss the remainder of the season, meaning another campaign at the Nou Camp can be chalked off for him; since joining Barcelona in 2017, Dembele has suffered from multiple injuries and has somehow missed 63 games for La Blaugrana during that period.

But should Barca now simply dispense of the Frenchman and look to sign a replacement? Or should they keep the faith in their second-most expensive signing? Here are 3 reasons why they should do the latter.

#1 He’s too young and too talented to give up on

Dembele is simply too talented for Barcelona to give up on
Dembele is simply too talented for Barcelona to give up on

Sure, Ousmane Dembele has suffered a lot of injuries since his move to Barcelona in 2017 – 9 in total, including severe ones to both of his hamstrings – but despite this, it’s a no-brainer that the Catalan giants should keep faith with him. After all, the French forward is just 22 years old – nowhere near reaching his prime yet – and with the way that modern science can help players to come back from injuries, there’s no evidence to justify writing him off just yet.

Look at Zlatan Ibrahimovic, for instance – a player more than a decade older than Dembele. He came back from a fully torn ACL in just 6 and a half months to continue scoring goals for LA Galaxy. Or Francesco Totti, who broke his leg and tore multiple ligaments in February 2006 – at the age of 29 – only to return in time for June 2006’s World Cup, where he played all 7 of Italy’s games.

Admittedly, Dembele’s greatest asset is his speed, and there is a chance that his hamstring injuries may curtail that – Michael Owen and Fernando Torres both lost some of their pace after similar issues – but he’s also a fantastically skilled dribbler, has a phenomenal eye for a pass and has excellent finishing skills. Even moving at a slightly slower pace, the Frenchman could still be a highly effective player for Barcelona.

Simply put, lesser – and far older – players than Dembele have suffered worse injuries and came back to be just as good as they were prior to their time on the shelf. There’s no reason why the 22-year old French international can’t do the same, and so La Blaugrana cannot give up on someone with so much talent just because of some poor luck with injuries.

#2 Barca would never recoup their transfer fee for him

Dembele cost Barcelona an eye-watering €105m in 2017
Dembele cost Barcelona an eye-watering €105m in 2017

When it comes to the potential for Barcelona to simply cut their losses on Ousmane Dembele, there’s a pretty big elephant in the room – one that cost La Blaugrana a ridiculous €105m. At the time of his move to the Nou Camp from Borussia Dortmund, in fact, not only was Dembele Barca’s record signing, but he was also the second-most expensive player in the game’s history.

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Did his talents warrant such a hefty fee? In all honesty, the truth is probably no. But Barcelona had the €222m that Paris St-Germain had paid for Neymar burning a hole in their pocket and needed to make a statement signing, and so Dembele – who was more of a prospect at the time – was inked for an amount more worthy of a proven world-class star like Cristiano Ronaldo.

What does this mean in reference to his current status, though? Well, it essentially means that if Barca were to write the French forward off at this stage, the likelihood of them recouping the fee they paid for him lies somewhere between slim and none. If anything – due to his terrible luck with injuries – they’d probably be fortunate to get even half of that €105m.

That’s bad business however you look at it, and regardless of Barcelona’s status as one of the world’s richest clubs, it’s hard to imagine they’d be willing to essentially write off such a chunk of money.

And of course, that doesn’t even take into account the chance that if they were to sell him to another club, Dembele could get back to his best and suddenly develop into the player he was supposed to be at the Nou Camp.

So regardless of how long it takes the Frenchman to fully recover from his current injury nightmare, finances alone would dictate that it makes more sense for Barca to keep faith in him.

 #3 Barcelona have done alright without him so far

Barca have survived without Dembele so far, so why make a snap decision to sell him?
Barca have survived without Dembele so far, so why make a snap decision to sell him?

The biggest reason Barca might have to cut their losses and simply move Ousmane Dembele on to pastures new would probably be the idea that a replacement for him could be signed during the next transfer window. But in reality, questions must be asked over whether La Blaugrana would even need a replacement in the first place.

After all, it’s hardly like Dembele has been a key player for them during the current campaign; the French forward has played just 5 times in La Liga for Barcelona during 2019-20, and 2 of those appearances came from the substitute’s bench. And yet the Catalan giants currently sit just 3 points off the top of the table, have scored more goals than any other side in the competition, and are one of the favourites to lift the Champions League too.

It’s not even like they’re relying purely on the talents of Lionel Messi for goals, either; second-top goalscorer Luis Suarez is admittedly injured too, but Antoine Griezmann has scored 12 goals thus far while teenager Ansu Fati has also stepped up when required, scoring 5 of his own.

Basically, if Quique Setien’s side have been doing well without Dembele – or a potential replacement – thus far, then why rock the boat by selling and replacing him? Surely it makes more sense for the Catalan side to just view him as a talent for the future and keep faith in him – meaning that when he does return, he’ll practically be the same as a new signing anyway.

At the end of the day, Barcelona know that Dembele has the talent – injuries aside – to be a true star at the Nou Camp. The same can’t be said for a potential replacement, so why take that risk? 

Published 05 Feb 2020, 04:27 IST
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