Barcelona have completed the signing of Borussia Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele for a club record fee.
The 20-year old France international signed a five-year contract. Dembele has been handed the squad number 11 previously worn by Neymar who joined Paris Saint-Germain for a world record fee last month.
A Barcelona statement read:
“FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ousmane Dembele for 105million euros plus add ons. The player will sign a five-year deal and his buy out clause is set 400 million euros.”
Ousmane Dembele has been a priority target for Barcelona all summer, along with Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, as Barcelona are looking for reinforcements following the sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world record £198million. The deal for Dembele is the second most expensive transfer in history.
Talks for Dembele, who has been suspended from any club activity since the 10 August after he missed a training session without permission, had broken down after Barca refused to meet the clubs valuation for the player. An offer worth more than €100m was rejected two weeks ago, with Dortmund insisting the will not accept anything less than €150m for a player they signed the previous summer for a 10th of that cost from French outfit Rennes.
However, after three bids for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho being rejected – the Spanish giants insisting they will return with a fourth bid – Barca instead opted to move forward with a deal for Dortmund forward Ousmane Dembele, with a deal worth an initial fee of £97m and add ons up to £38m.
With the unexpected sale of Neymar to PSG, Barcelona are in desperate need of reinforcements, the reason for their desperate activity in the transfer window this summer. Other than Ousmane Dembele, since the sale of Neymar few weeks ago, Barcelona have been interested in Liverpool’s Coutinho, Jean Michaël Seri from French club Nice and PSG’s Angel Di Maria – with personal terms said to be agreed between the club and the Argentinian winger who played for Real Madrid in 2014. They have already secured the services of former Tottenham midfielder Paulinho from Chinese club Guangzhou Evergrande for €40 million.
Barcelona are believed to be aiming for another two or three signings before the window closes within the next week. The purchase of Ousmane Dembele, though, represents very outstanding business from Barcelona despite the hefty fee. Considering today’s market, the extortionate prices and the potential ability of the player, Barcelona have found themselves a gem in Ousmane Dembele. This is a player with world class abilities as his debut season at Dortmund has shown. An out-an-out winger with devastating speed, brilliant dribbling abilities and a maturity beyond his tender years at 20-years old. He was the fulcrum of Dortmund’s attack last season.
While Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s news that he may as well be staying at the Westfalenstadion, is welcome news to Dortmund fans, the departure of Dembele is sure to worry Dortmund fans more than anything. They have invested in Dyanmo Kiev winger Andriy Yarmolenko, but questions will be asked whether he can have the same impact as Dembele did.
Nonetheless, Aubameyang’s return of 31 goals in the Bundesliga last term would have been tough to replace. Aubameyang also played a huge part in Dembele’s adaptation to the side, acting as a big brother type figure to a player who was only 18 when he signed for BVB, and who had played less than a full season of senior football for Rennes. Reading in to his return of six goals in 22 Bundesliga games – respectable but not spectacular – without context, you might wonder just how Dembele would replace Neymar.
Check the other column, and you would see Dembele holds a further whopping 18 assists – Bundesliga and the Champions League combined – gives you what the French trickster is about. Check out his through ball for Aubameyang against Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup – start of season show-piece – a picture perfect through ball cutting open the Bayern Munich like something out of the parting of the Red Sea.
So, while keeping Aubameyang is a nice feeling for Dortmund, losing Dembele would be a devastating blow, a tough pill to swallow considering the massive amounts of ability he holds. To sell Dembele would mean Dortmund would have to start again, in terms of building again in the final third. There aren’t many footballers out there with the same talents as Dembele, that’s why arguably the biggest club in the World has come calling for his signature.
How Dortmund deal with this loss is one thing. How Dembele deals with the move to Barcelona is another, considering the weight of expectation on his shoulders lifts five times more. No doubt about it, he is a direct replacement for Neymar. Yes, Neymar, a statement that is sure to send shivers down his spine. Add on top of that, he will be lining up with the World’s best in Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. What a difference a year makes. Dembele finds himself on the cusp of a career changing move.
German football expert, Lars Pollman feels Dembele is making the right move for his career:
“After correctly deciding an intermediate step would be best for his career as he was ready to leave Rennes last summer, there’s little doubt that Dembele is now ready to take on any challenge.”
And why wouldn’t he be ready? As Pollman alluded to, Dembele is in charge of his own destiny, if he is able to cause as much havoc in the German Bundesliga, then who’s to say he won’t cause much more with Lionel Messi and co? Dembele could be the man to close the massive bridge that is separating Real Madrid and Barcelona in terms of squad quality.
Whether Barca go back in for Coutinho once the signing of Dembele is sealed is another matter. It is reported according to Sky Sources, that Philippe Coutinho hopes the signing of Dembele does not hamper his chances of a move the Camp Nou as well but Sky Sports expert Guillem Balague has stated in his Sky Sports Column that Barcelona will attempt to sign Coutinho one again, after Dembele has completed his move.
With that said, Dembele thinks big. Rather than worrying about the possibility of losing his place in the squad for next summers World Cup if things are tricky at the Camp Nou, he’s probably thinking if he clicks to devastating effect with Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi, Didier Deschamps will have a hard time leaving him out of the line-up come next June.
Barca coach Ernesto Valverde is thrilled to have landed Dembele and stated:
“He is a player who guarantees us depth, something that we have lost and that we need.”
“He can play on the wing and also as a striker, and in that sense offers us many possibilities.
“He is fast, deep, technical and we hope he brings us many things.”
Dembele adds a youthful exuberance to a Barcelona that is starting to age. Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez and Pique all find themselves around the age of their 30s. The addition of Dembele will provide Barcelona with the youthful spark they have missed. Yet Dembele has rarely shied from the fact that he can see himself succeeding with Barca in time, and maybe now is the perfect moment.
I for one cannot wait to see Dembele in a Barcelona shirt, forget about the price tag. Dembele will be worth every outlay Barca pay Dortmund. At the tender age of 20, Ousmane Dembele is ready for the big time, ready to fill the gap left by Neymar. They do say, ‘If you’re good enough, you are old enough’.