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Does Ousmane Dembele deserve a contract extension?

Domagoj Kostanjšak

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Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images

This June, Ousmane Dembele will enter the final year of his contract at Barcelona. The current deal is viable until the summer of 2022 and this puts the young Frenchman at a crossroads of sorts. On one hand, a player who plans to stay with the team shouldn’t exactly be put in this situation in the first place. On the other, if Barcelona are to sell him, now is the last chance to do so if there’s to be at least some profit coming from it.

Considering how the club is still in a dire financial situation, this is a huge decision they have to make. Dembele has also been a very big investment on their part and a player who has what it takes to mark the club’s future as well as the present. However, while we’ve been seeing glimpses of that player, Dembele still has a long way to go before fully convincing everyone.

That’s exactly what makes the situation so complex. The past couple of weeks have been rather impressive and the Frenchman is slowly but steadily growing both on and off the pitch. Now we’re seeing a much more mature player; one that is motivated, fit and eager to prove himself. In other words, Dembele has grown immensely and it’s reflecting positively on his performances.

He went from a player whose injuries threatened to outnumber the number of games in which he’d featured for the club to a player Ronald Koeman can count on week in, week out. The stats definitely confirm that thesis. Dembele has played 28 games so far in 2020/21 and has accumulated a total of 1740 minutes across that tally.

Compare that to the meagre 492 minutes in 2019/20 and much better but still inconsistent 2503 in 2018/19 and the results are palpable. He’s already eclipsed last season’s tally by a long shot and is on course to do the same with the 18/19 and we’re just half-way through the current campaign. In that sense, we have to commend him and say that yes, both on a psychological and fitness level, he’s making strides in the right direction.

However, there are always two sides to the same coin. So far this season, Dembele has scored six goals and assisted four more on the side. In his last ‘full’ season, back in 18/19, he registered 14 and eight respectively across all competitions. This could mean that at this rate, we won’t see such a big return on this campaign unless he seriously steps it up.

Granted, with him, it’s not always about the final product. Dembele brings a dose of chaos into Barcelona’s usual stability and calmness in possession. His pace, unpredictability and constant threat on the flank mean the Catalans’ attack is that much more dangerous for the opposition.

So the numbers can be deceiving when it comes to his contribution. Take their last game against Cadiz CF, which unfortunately ended in a draw. Dembele’s gravity on the right and his movement were causing the guests worlds of problems as he weaved through their defence time and time again. But while that was certainly impressive, it also revealed some of his other flaws.

Dembele is a powerful player when fit and ready but his final product can be lacking. Barcelona kept getting into good situations but sadly with no results to show for. The Frenchman himself was among the players to miss big chances that afternoon which, combined with the final defensive error from his countryman, meant victory slipped through their fingers yet again.

Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

So despite finally staying fit and playing regularly, Dembele’s output is still below par for such a gigantic signing. He is not alone in this, of course, and he shouldn’t and won’t exclusively be blamed for Barcelona’s mishaps. But the magic and dazzling runs have to amount to something. Otherwise, they’re just aesthetics that won’t exactly win you games.

It may be a harsh verdict but in this transitional period where Barcelona are aching for results, players must finally step up and start pulling their weight. It is phenomenal how Dembele has improved his fitness levels and mentality. That part of his development must be commended. But unfortunately, we still require a lot more from the young Frenchman.

That being said, he is 23 years old, which means there is still room for improvement. However, it also means he’s entering his prime years and now is the time to finally turn his god-given talent into something more. We keep saying he has the potential to become world-class because there are glimpses constantly proving this to be true.

But the talent alone won’t cut it. While he does seem to be putting more effort in as of late, we’re yet to witness true results. We’re dazzled with his moves because frankly, he’s often the only spark we have. That in itself is a part of a much bigger problem.

Sadly, the alternative to grooming him into the world-class winger Barcelona need is equally as challenging. If they are to sell him, it needs to happen this summer. Although, we have to remember the length of his remaining contract is sure to hamper any potential financial gains and the club can forget getting anything close to what they had invested in him.

Would it be enough to ensure funds for a worthy replacement? Can they hope to find someone better on the market who’s both available (in other words, cheap) and good enough? These questions make their decision even riskier.

But transfers are always nothing more than a gamble. You can do your research and everything could fit on paper but the reality can often be deceiving. Such is the nature of this sport.

“I think Ousmane Dembele deserves special treatment. You have to take care of such great players. I really like to see Dembele well. He has been settling down, is in spectacular form, and is mentally strong as well,” Joan Laporta told Gerard Romero recently. And it’s true, Dembele deserves special treatment because he is a special player.

But how long do Barcelona plan to give him to break out of his shell and reach for the stars? The clock is ticking and they have to make a huge decision in the coming months.

Dembele himself has a big task ahead as well – prove to the Azulgranas he’s worthy of staying at the Camp Nou. Prove that the world-class player we all know is deep within will come out eventually.

If he can do that, there’s no doubt a bright future is ahead of both him and Barcelona.

Stats: Transfermarkt

I’ve been a Barcelona fan for more than half of my life. What started as blind love is slowly turning into professional writing. Now, I get to write about Barca, analyse them, and voice my opinions on them across platforms. I’m happy to be a part of this big project.

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  1. Avatar

    Babangida Othman

    23/02/2021 at 09:56

    No, not according to Barcelona standards.

  2. Avatar

    theIndian

    23/02/2021 at 10:26

    Will PSG be willing to swap him for Mbappe 😛

  3. Avatar

    Eben

    23/02/2021 at 11:11

    Barcelona should let the gentleman play what we know….They should let him come out of the shell to play the Dembele we know, because they’ve changed his style of play😡

  4. Avatar

    Alex

    23/02/2021 at 11:14

    I would say with this inconsistent performance his putting on he doesn’t deserves new contract

  5. Avatar

    Cristian R.

    23/02/2021 at 16:40

    Absolutely not!

    His chronic inconsistency, his extremely poor decision making, his mental weakness far outweigh his athletic and technical abilities. His extremely poor decision making and lack of concentration are the ultimate decision factor for me: he losses possession very easily and very frequently, and he takes extra dribbles instead of shooting, like just the other day vs, Cadiz, and lack of concentration in front of goal, leading to his missing clear goal opportunities, like he did twice in the closing stages of the game vs. Liverpool when we were 3-0 up – his missing those clear chances proved fatal for Barcelona.

    I would sell him this summer and cut our losses, as opposed to leting him go for free at the end of the contract.

    I would rather have a young winger from La Masia take his place.

    #DembeleOut

  6. Avatar

    William Spalburg

    23/02/2021 at 17:15

    To me Dembele is a must in the starting line up of Barcelona. His speed and ballcontrole is noticeable. However sometimes he wants to go too much for personal glory and that causes unnecesarry ball loss!!

  7. Avatar

    Rodreck Kabaya

    23/02/2021 at 18:20

    dembele, is a good player, fast and skillful.the problem is mostly with coaches, they are fielding Dembele incorrectly just like coutinho…Most importantly, they dont have the courage to change the system and at the same time playing our tik tak. philipe luis,pep, are better coaches that can groom a player to a better level..Dembele is 100% fine , the coach is not doing enough to build a better team with Dembele..

  8. Avatar

    Rastin Houshmand

    23/02/2021 at 20:46

    I think that in order to cut our losses, we need to sell him now. Dembele has always brought a different dynamic to our squad, but as we try to rebuild in the post-Messi era, pace and unpredictability will no longer be a trait that only Dembele has. With the likes of Collado and Trincao picking up form, I think its time that we let him go.

    • Avatar

      Jason Ugwuiro

      24/02/2021 at 14:07

      All speed,trickery and aesthetics, without end products. No time for patience. Dembouz should be cashed In now before its too late.

  9. Avatar

    Haris

    23/02/2021 at 22:43

    Barcelona must Sell all four Frech Players this summer, together with Koutionio, and Fire The Coach!

Opinions

A significant week in Barcelona for Lionel Messi’s future

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Photo via Imago

It is a topic that gets the football world giddy. The fantasies of Lionel Messi playing in the Premier League, the formation of another star-studded front three alongside Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe, and for the romantics, a return to Argentina is set in their hearts. 

After the infamous events of the summer of 2020, now more than ever, the biggest legend of FC Barcelona looks closer than ever to leaving. 

Many Barça fans feel that it could be a good thing that the six-time Ballon D’or winner leaves, bringing up the point that the Catalan side needs a hard restart next season and the idea of building a team around a 33-year-old does not seem logical, as it only benefits the near future. 

This is a valid point and most likely comes from those who want not only the best for Barca but Messi as well, as Cúlers are not ignorant to the fact that the club cannot promise their beloved number ten the fifth Champions League trophy he craves in its current situation.   

However, in an ideal world, Barça fans would want Messi to stay and win his fifth European Cup wearing Blaugrana and if that is to happen, the week that went by is the only decider on course for the club and player alike.

The Copa Del Rey comeback 

In the interview with Jordi Évole on LaSexta last December, Lionel Messi stated that he “wanted to keep competing to win trophies.” 

Two weeks ago, that desire for this season looked unlikely. Atletico Madrid had a sizeable lead over the Catalans in La Liga, Paris Saint-Germain built up a 1-4 lead in the Champions League, and Sevilla had a 2-0 advantage in the Copa del Rey. 

The first of these tasks was addressed on Wednesday night, in what turned out to be a memorable night in the history of FC Barcelona. A 94th minute Gerard Pique header sent Barça into extra time, where Martin Braithwaite completed the comeback to send the Catalans through to the final 3-2 on aggregate. 

Messi was did not score or assist, but essentially led the comeback for Barcelona. (Photo via Imago)

The chance to win another trophy would no doubt have pleased Messi but it is the story of the match that will help keep the Argentine at the club next season. 

If Messi stopped and looked around the Camp Nou on Wednesday night, he would have seen determination and heart from his teammates to keep going to the final whistle, an abundance of youthful talent performing at a level beyond their years, and world-class players such as Marc-Andre ter Stegen ready to step up when certain challenges emerged. 

Throughout one night, all these combined into a sort of presentation to the Argentine, exhibiting the future of FC Barcelona and where the team is headed.

There is no denying that the gap between Barcelona and Europe’s elite is still large, but this performance showed the signs Messi has called for and that is something that can be noted down for the future.

The perfect Liga weekend

Looking ahead to the weekend, the second of Barcelona’s comeback missions received an encouraging boost. 

The Catalan side were looking to go 16 games unbeaten in La Liga in a match against twelfth place Osasuna and a win would not only see them extend this run but close the gap on Atletico Madrid to just two points, albeit with two games in hand. 

Barcelona came out victorious in Pamplona. (Photo via Imago)

The importance of this weekend lied in Atletico’s game as they face city rivals Real Madrid. In an ideal world, Barça fans would hope that the spoils are shared in El Derbi allowing the Blaugrana side to gain points on both Madrid clubs. 

Barcelona’s prayers were catered to, and not only did the Catalan giants pick up three ugly, yet important points from their encounter against Osasuna, the capital outfits had to settle for a draw. Playing the angel’s advocate, even if Atleti had come away with the three points, it would essentially narrow the title race to just two teams considering Los Colchoneros gap at the top. 

The ideal derby result. (Photo via Imago)

From Lionel Messi’s point of view, winning the La Liga title from the position Barça found themselves in a few weeks back would be a huge encouragement to stay for another season, especially if it is accompanied by the Copa del Rey. The Argentine has been part of teams that let leads slip over the last three seasons and to flip the script on that, would ultimately show progress. 

The Presidential election 

The final act of the week was the 2021 Presidential Election, where the next president of FC Barcelona was chosen on Sunday night. Joan Laporta, Victor Font, and Toni Freixa were the three candidates fighting for Barça’s top spot, and all have addressed the situation of Lionel Messi throughout their campaigns. 

Joan Laporta had emerged as the favourite for a second spell, and like everyone suspected, the Spaniard swayed the elections, coming on top as the winner. Ideally, it would have a significant impact on the future of La Pulga, as Messi showed up to vote for the elections for the first time in his life. In fact, Laporta went on to claim that Leo congratulated him on the night. His renewal will be one of the many hurdles Laporta will have to jump over.

A new president, at long last. (Photo via Imago)

Throughout the presidential campaign, it has been rumoured that Messi will not stay if Joan Laporta does not win. Laporta himself fuelled these rumours on Tuesday during the last of the Presidential debates.

The Spaniard stated, “If I don’t win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona”. 

“If I don’t win, I am sure that Leo will not stay at Barcelona. “Messi will weigh up the offer we make him. I’m convinced that if the other candidates win, Messi will not remain at Barcelona. He wasn’t happy during Freixa’s time on the board.”

Joan Laporta in the presidential debate

If these feelings are believed to be true, the future of Lionel Messi could take a dramatic twist on Sunday. 

Having said all this, Lionel Messi’s future could come down to one simple desire, to win a fifth European Cup. At 33 years old, the Argentine does not have time on his side in this pursuit, and it could be years before Barcelona can compete for Europe’s top prize again. 

Similar scenes soon enough? (Photo via Imago)

With ready-made teams such as Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain waiting on the side-lines, the final decision in June could come down to this week — if this week does not make it for the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, there is little chance anything else will.

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