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Ousmane Dembele talks Barcelona, Messi, Iniesta, Xavi, Lucho, PSG, and injuries: “It was a dream come true”



Photo by DAMIEN MEYER/AFP via Getty Images

One of the biggest talking points this season for Barcelona has been the rise of Lamine Yamal.

The 16-year-old, coming through La Masia, has been a revelation for the club, and has already become the youngest player in history to hit double figures in goal contributions in a season.

He has seemingly also taken over the right-wing spot from Raphinha, who picked up an injury in January, and was out for a month.

However, none of this would have been probable (this season at least), had a certain Ousmane Dembele not have left the club to join PSG. The French giants triggered his €50 million release clause, and the winger was happy to return to his home country.

Dembele was one of Barcelona’s biggest assets under Xavi, and evidently his favourite attacker in the squad. He even racked up 26 La Liga goal contributions under the manager in just over a season-and-a-half.

Speaking about his tenure at the club in an interview today, as relayed by SPORT, Dembele said, “I arrived at Barcelona at the age of 20, after only a year and a half of professional football. I was still learning. Barcelona is the place where I have learned the most and where I have grown the most in my personal and professional life.”

It is true that I suffered a lot there. I had a very difficult time, I recognize it. And then, little by little, over the years, everything was getting better. It is the logical evolution of a young professional player who, over the years, has changed many things,” he added, speaking about his injuries.

At the end of the second year, I hired a physical trainer. His arrival changed many things in the country and in my life. We work on training and on my days off. It helped me a lot. In fact, I still have him with me here in Paris. We do a lot of prevention, we work in the gym.”

And as far as his adaption to life at PSG is concerned, Dembele said it has been easy, saying that the Ligue 1 leaders are a ‘massive’ club, like Barcelona.

Barcelona is a massive club, we know it. But PSG is also a great club, and I see it both on and off the field. When you go to the city, they recognize you right away. Frankly, apart from the weather, for me, there haven’t been many changes (laughs).”

“The same goes for the stadium: the Camp Nou is huge and full of history. But in the Parque des Príncipes, the atmosphere is exceptional, and in each game, the fans take us in flight.”

Dembele also talked about his relationship with current PSG manager Luis Enrique and his former boss Xavi, both of whom have enjoyed working with him.

“The nature of my relationship with Luis Enrique is more or less the same as with Xavi. I lived incredible moments with Xavi. We were very close. He gave me a lot of advice and trusted me a lot. I have known Luis Enrique for a long time, because he already wanted me to come to Barcelona when I was at Rennes. I am very happy to have him as a coach.”

Finally, he confessed his love for Barcelona, Andres Iniesta, and none other than the man he considers his favourite player of all time, Lionel Messi.

“My first shirt was one from England, with David Beckham. Then I loved Steven Gerrard and then I met Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta and FC Barcelona.

“Messi has always been my favorite player. It was him, Guardiola and Iniesta who made me love Barça. That’s why I’ve always dreamed of playing there. When I signed for Barça, it was dream come true. Playing with Iniesta in his last year and with Messi was incredible”

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