The news surrounding Ousmane Dembele’s contract situation at Barcelona has taken over the headlines. Reports indicate that contract talks between the two parties have hit a stalemate.
Over the last few weeks, Dembele has been heralded by Xavi Hernandez and is promised a vital role in Barcelona’s long-term project. The Catalans will do everything they can to get him to sign a renewal. Conversely, the 24-year old reportedly wants out of the Camp Nou, with a myriad of potential suitors lining up to sign him as soon as January.
Should Dembele leave for greener pastures, here are Barça Universal’s top picks for potential destinations. These picks were determined by taking sporting projects, level of competition, demand, and other factors into account.
The first team on this list is Juventus. The struggling Italian giants find themselves fifth in the table after 16 matches played and are offensively stagnant. Their 20 goals scored ranks 13th in the league, and they are underperforming their Expected Goals by 1, per fbref.com. Admittedly, that is not an alarming amount. However, they desperately need help scoring up front, not to mention creating chances.
Dembele would fit on either flank of Massimiliano Allegri’s systems that emphasize verticality and playing into space. The Frenchman would be a seamless fit if the manager opts for a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. He and Federico Chiesa down the flanks would be a nightmare for any opposition to defend.
With this in mind, Ousmane Dembele would be a much-welcomed addition. In fact, the 24-year old has been linked with a move to Turin in the past. First, the move will make sense financially, as Juventus could likely offer the Frenchman the contract he desires.
In terms of playing time, he would immediately be one of the premier players on the squad, playing a crucial role in a team that is somewhat rebuilding yet consistently in the Champions League.
In his search for an abundance of playing time at one of Europe’s elite clubs, Dembele has very few options as suitable as Juventus.
Transfer Approval Rating: 8.5/10
Another possibility is Chelsea. While the defending Champions League winners may not need Dembele as much as the other teams on this list, his services would be a cherry on top of one of Europe’s elite squads. Financially, there would also be little to no concern as the London side are notoriously well-off in that regard.
An intriguing aspect of this move would be Dembele’s reunion with Thomas Tuchel, who managed him at Borussia Dortmund in 2016-17. The Frenchman tallied an impressive ten goals and 19 assists that season, earning him his eventual move to Barcelona. Together again at Chelsea, Tuchel could reinvigorate Dembele’s career. Additionally, Tuchel’s presence could help the player adapt to life in England.
Chelsea’s squad is admittedly reasonably deep, and Tuchel is known for his squad rotation. Nevertheless, Dembele could still carve out a prominent role competing with the likes of Hakim Ziyech and Christian Pulisic, both of whom have their roadblocks to overcome. In Tuchel’s 3-4-2-1, Dembele could play at left or right-wing.
If Dembele wants to win above all else, even at the cost of having a minor role, then Chelsea is a clear choice.
Transfer Approval Rating: 9/10
Staying in London, Tottenham Hotspur are another club that could realistically take in Ousmane Dembele. Again, the financial side of the move would be easily manageable. On the pitch, with Harry Kane’s long-term future at the club in doubt and overall poor squad depth, Spurs are in need of attacking firepower.
Dembele represents a player who can transform their squad by adding more dimension and dynamism.
In Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3/3-5-2, Dembele could play at right-wing, easily replacing Lucas Moura from the starting eleven. His play in open space would fit right into Conte’s philosophy, and he could thrive running onto balls behind the backline from Harry Kane. Playing under Conte could also help alleviate the Frenchman’s fitness issues.
Unfortunately, Tottenham are currently competing in the UEFA Conference League and sit fifth in the table. Their aspirations are much higher, and Dembele could help propel them to that level. Still, it is admittedly difficult to envision the Spurs’ future, which could keep big-name signings away, especially if Kane is to leave anytime soon.
Tottenham are also the only club in this list that won’t mind shelling out some money to reinforce their team in the winter to back their new manager. That way, Barça might have a chance of getting some cash for the Frenchman.
Moreover, we can forecast that Dembele will not be a player that Conte would like to train. Players in his teams have constantly spoken about how high-intensity the training sessions are, often leading to injuries.
Putting a player most synonymous with time on the sidelines than anything else makes little sense. However, the Italian manager is probably here only for the short-term, and Dembele could have a bright future for the London faithful.
Transfer Approval Rating: 7/10
Bonus: RB Leipzig
A darkhorse candidate in the race for Dembele’s signature is RB Leipzig. The German side have established themselves atop the Bundesliga for the last few seasons, play regular Champions League football, and have a promising project. They currently sit eighth in the table and could use more quality.
Jesse Marsch has been sacked as their manager, and Domenico Tedesco has taken over till the end of the season. Dembele could sit well in their 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 — the two formations we have seen most commonly for the Red Bull outfit.
He would make a strong attack even stronger, playing alongside Christopher Nkunku, Yussuf Poulsen, Dominik Szoboszlai, Emil Forsberg, and André Silva.
From a sporting point of view, few options are more exciting than Leipzig. On the plus side, Dembele would be comfortable in the Bundesliga, having previously enjoyed success with Borussia Dortmund.
Transfer Approval Rating: 7.5/10