Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has relied on Ousmane Dembele as his first choice for the right wing. His preference for the Frenchman has seen summer-signing Raphinha either operate on the opposite flank or settle for the role of a substitute.
Dembele has repaid his coach's faith by scoring five goals and providing seven assists in 20 games this season.
Speaking on the club's Amazon Prime documentary, Xavi claimed that Dembele is the best winger he has seen at the club. This has come as a surprise to many considering the 42-year-old has played alongside the likes of Neymar, Pedro Rodriguez and other greats.
Xavi said (via Barca Universal):
“I’ve been with Barça for 25 years and I’ve never seen a winger at the same level as Dembele.”
While Dembele's potential has never been in doubt, his persistent injury troubles have been a point of concern. The Frenchman arrived at the club in 2017 and has since made 170 appearances, scoring 37 goals and providing 41 assists.
Barcelona star spoke about his rise to prominence
Besides Ousmane Dembele, Alejandro Balde has also been a promising player for Barcelona this season. He has made 16 appearances for Xavi's side this campaign, with just three of them as a substitute.
Balde recently spoke about his rise to stardom. The 19-year-old old Que t'hi Jugues (via Barca Universal):
“If they told me previously that I would participate with the first team and play in the World Cup, I would have said that we are on the Day of the Innocents. Everything went quickly, a year ago I was in Barca B and now with the first team and I participated in the World Cup. It’s all gone very quickly, but I’m absorbing things well. It’s a dream.”
Barca will return to action against Espanyol on December 31. They currently sit at the top of the La Liga table with 37 points from 14 games, and lead second-placed Real Madrid by two points.