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Barça will listen to offers for Dembélé, but should they?

Alexandre Patanian

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Header photo by Marc Gonzalez Aloma via Imago

Reports link Ousmane Dembélé out of Barça for the umpteenth time. If it happens, it’s bad news for everyone involved. Here’s why.

A few months after stating that Ousmane Dembélé will be given one last chance to impress at Barcelona, reports are now saying that the club will listen to offers for their winger. The news coincides with Ansu Fati’s contract renewal talks, and the club believes in its La Masía graduate more than one of the most expensive transfers in the club’s history.

If Dembélé ever leaves, Ousmane’s last hurrah will be in the Champions League where the club dearly needs him because he is one of the few players to provide width, skills, and incisiveness in the attack. The Frenchman has had significant problems with injuries since joining, and the club was ready to give him one last chance to impress next season, but that was before the coronavirus outbreak. The financial situation at Camp Nou is scary, and no players will sign if the Catalans are not relieved from some massive salaries while getting a great transfer fee.

However, selling Ousmane Dembélé would not get Barça as much money as they would like, and breaking promises is the last thing the board wants after handling the Arthur situation woefully. A percentage of the fee would go to Dortmund, and Dembélé’s value has decreased massively due to his bad luck with injuries, and getting more than 50 million would be a miracle. Also, Barça would lose more than just money..

Ousmane Dembélé is a phenomenal player when fit. He showed it last year as he won many points en route to win the league title, something Barça couldn’t do without the Frenchman for the best part of the season. In the Champions League, although he should not be rushed back from injury, he’d be an essential part of a squad that seems lost on the wings. Betting on Ansu Fati’s potential is tremendous and one of the few times the board has given their youngsters some importance, but betting on one true winger for a whole is suicide.

Barça play in four competitions every year, and they try to win a treble every season, which means they have to cover every one of their positions in case of injuries, suspensions and bad form. They cannot bet on Ansu, a 17-year-old, only, and they undoubtedly will not get a player like a fit Ousmane Dembélé for a reasonable price. Dembélé’s role is essential in this team, and he is the wildcard Setién dreams about in his sleep. Let’s not forget the Cantabrian coach touted Ousmane as a new signing when he first set foot at Camp Nou, and he hasn’t gotten the chance to use his new signing due to injuries and misfortune.

To add insult to injury, Barça have got way more valuable assets such as Philippe Coutinho, who comes back from an okay season at Bayern and who still holds more value than Dembélé, or wages as big as Ousmane’s such as Rakitic, Vidal or Umtiti. Also, why would Barça sign any high-reputation player when Eric García is close to a return and the club was set to trust in their youth for once?

If Dembélé leaves to finance Lautaro’s transfer, which is another overpriced deal, Barcelona will suffer from their dealings one last time before the elections in 2021.

As a Lebanese teenager who never had the chance to support their local team, I fell in love with the club that was FC Barcelona at the start of the decade. I always was passionate about writing and this is exactly what I am looking for: sharing my insights and opinions on football.

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The psychology at Barcelona: A leaf out of Jurgen Klopp’s book

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

Guest Contributor: Darren Looney

“When I came here, the size of the club was a burden. Now it’s our safety net, it’s our trampoline, it’s our home, it’s our basis, it’s everything to us. Now we are Liverpool before the club was Liverpool and we were just the guys who were trying to be good enough”.

In Melissa Reddy’s book ‘Believe Us’, Jurgen Klopp, the man who led Liverpool to become champions of England, Europe and the world, details how a change in psychology from having the clubs past success being used as a noose around their necks to becoming fully confident individuals, helped the club end their 30-year wait for a league title.  

FC Barcelona has a noose of its own hanging over the Camp Nou at present. It has been placed there by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, having left the club in a state that is unable to match the success seen over the last two decades. 

The incoming president and manager will be the ones left to cut it free, and with limited economic resources to do this, a change in the mindsets of the lads could play a part in helping the club get the most out of what they already have. 

Barcelona’s current state

The Josep Maria Bartomeu’s presidency oversaw a circus rather than a football club. In this timeframe, Barcelona lost the respect of its fellow European giants through humiliating performances in the Champions League, selling Neymar Jr. to Paris Saint Germain, poor recruitment, and a squad constantly breaking under pressure.

Players such as Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Lionel Messi, and Ousmane Dembele, of those that started in the latest Champions League match, have all been through the most of these embarrassing moments, which has no doubt left some trauma. 

Gerard Pique has been on the end of this drama over and over. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Others in the squad have laid witness to Bartomeu disregarding the club’s motto ‘MÉS QUE UN CLUB’ with his handling of club legends Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi’s transfer situations in the summer. That could not have inspired the non-senior members of the squad with any confidence. 

Adding to that, players like Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho, Junior Firpo, and Antoine Griezmann have had their names constantly attached to rumoured player plus cash deals, such as the Neymar offers, which can lead to them questioning if they are good enough. This is the sort of psychology you do not want around a club trying to compete.     

When asked about whether a sports psychologist would benefit FC Barcelona back in December, Barça manager Ronald Koeman stated, “I don’t believe in psychologists and mental [issues]. If you play for Barca, pressure exists, you know that, and you have to overcome it”. 

This answer shows the Dutchman’s ignorance of the importance of a player’s psychological state. Additionally, it also shows arrogance about the club and the stress that comes binding with it. Ignorance that is evident in the pictures of Lenglet, as he left the Camp Nou after Sunday’s match in tears, most likely due to a lack of support. The kind of lack of support that eventually leads to careers dissolving.

Lenglet deserves support right now, something he is not getting. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)

In the same press conference, Koeman stated that “this team has enough personality and experience” to get through bad moments. This “experience” is also susceptible to being psychologically overwhelmed, the dressing room at halftime at Anfield is evidence of this.  

Whether it is Koeman or the next president’s manager, one will have to get a hold of this problem. Luckily for them, the blueprint of how much power the manager can have over this can be seen in the place Jordi Alba shed his tears. 

The Jurgen Klopp effect

When Jurgen Klopp arrived in Liverpool, one of the first things he addressed was a change in psychology from the supporters. He wanted the fans to believe in the process, and in his first press conference, he enforced this by saying, “we need to feel the confidence and trust of the people”.

In ‘Believe Us’, Klopp speaks about the psychological state he found the players in when he first arrived. He claims that “The players were obviously listening to all the voices saying they are not good enough for the club or that I can’t wait to get rid of them.” A situation some Barca players find themselves in now, as mentioned earlier.

Klopp flipped Liverpool around onto its head. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

One of the German’s first instructions was for the players to pay no attention to comments outside of him and his coaching staff, a message that took longer than expected to resonate, as the team collapsed in the title race halfway through the next season.

Klopp explains that the collapse was down to the players not complying with this request. The German explained how the players were focused on people saying, “they don’t have a plan B for deep-defending sides, they can only play one way”. A criticism that Cúlers this season know too well.

Klopp emphasises the importance a strong mentality within games had on the Red’s fortunes and claims new players alone would not have been enough. This is a note worth taking for those looking at Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe to change Barcelona’s fortunes

It took Klopp years to convince some players that they were good enough to play for a club as big as Liverpool. New players added to the quality of the squad but that psychological attitude to keep going for the full 90 minutes, no matter the score, is what led the club to their recent success. This was visible countless times over last season as well, as Pool continued to take hits at teams till the last minute till they eventually broke. Barcelona, too, have been on the receiving end of their incredible mentality.

Koeman might be right in that the players do not need a sports psychologist. However, Lenglet’s incident exhibits that the psychological state of his players is something that he must take control of and not ignore.  

Barcelona need to become one unit to strive forwards as a team. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)

Next season has the potential to be an important one for Barcelona’s near future. With a new president at the helm and a potential new manager. The Catalan side needs to banish the psychological doubts leftover by Bartomeu’s reign and move forward as one unit. 

The fans and players need to get behind the project put in place, as Jurgen Klopp puts it “when you agree on a common idea and work towards it together, you can create something special”.

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