The Hard Tackle takes a look at 3 clubs that should pursue Ousmane Dembele, with Barcelona reportedly content to sell him for €60 million amidst financial crisis.
Considered a prodigy no more than 3 years back, Ousmane Dembele’s career has taken an unfortunate turn, more specifically since he moved to Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund for a staggering €105 million.
Dembele has been riddled with injuries since his first La Liga start, way back in September 2017. He was among the XI that started the game away to Getafe. He was subbed off after no more than 24 minutes as Paulinho rescued the game for Barcelona in the dying minutes. This was his first, but sadly enough, not the last hamstring injury he suffered.
The Frenchman missed nearly 4 months from injury but got injured 4 games into his return to action. It was at this time that Ernesto Valverde decided to tweak with the formation to make up for the absence of Dembele, playing a 4-4-2.
Since his return that season, Dembele has suffered 7 additional injuries, out of which 5 have been to the hamstring. At the moment, he is recovering from a surgery to the hamstring and is out for 6 months at the bare minimum. La Liga gave Barca permission to buy a forward in February as an emergency signing after Dembele was ruled out, which came in the form of Martin Brathwaite.
At the moment, the Catalan giants have 5 first-team forwards, and a certain Ansu Fati in the mix as well. Reports suggest that they will be going in for Lautaro Martinez, who will cost at least €100 million if we’re being modest. Barcelona need to raise funds to push this transfer through, and it might come in the form of a team overhaul.
A report published by Marca, claim that Barcelona have agreed to drop Dembele’s asking price down to €60 million, but have no takers at the moment. This has also been done considering that the transfer market is going to be impacted financially and logistically because of COVID-19.
The Hard Tackle now looks at three clubs that should pursue Dembele in the summer given his decreased asking price. All these clubs are financially rather well off, can afford to gamble on a risky signing and are a good fit for the 22-year-old.
Manchester City are well on their way to lose Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich if rumours are anything to go by. They acquired his services of the German as a 21-year-old and he has been a crucial part of Pep Guardiola’s side since. They need an able replacement, who can do everything Sane did, and much more.
Here’s where Dembele comes in. The Frenchman has a more diverse skillset when compared to Sane, who is just as quick and just as good a dribbler. However, Dembele’s passing and vision are definitely a few steps ahead. Moreover, unlike the German, the latter is quite two-footed. He’s one of the most ambipedal players in the world, and can shoot, pass and carry the ball with either foot.
During his time in Germany, Dembele played both wings and in the attacking midfield role, forming a dangerous partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He then added the centre-forward position to his inventory, playing that role a couple of times in the Copa del Rey at Barcelona.
Dembele’s ability to play anywhere across the front four and his ambipedal nature makes him an extremely unpredictable threat. Something Pep has attempted to do with his forwards, but unsuccessfully so. On top of that, City are one of the few clubs that will be able to pay the ballpark figure close to €60 million that Barcelona demand after football resumes and the transfer activity is restored.
On top of that, given their massive financial resources, this a risk that they can take, because if Dembele manages overcome his injuries, there’s no doubt he’ll become an extremely good player; but if it does not pan out for The Sky Blues, they’ll be fine given their impressive depth in every position.
If there is one club in Europe that will be even better off than Manchester City financially after the crisis blows over, it is unarguably PSG. The French capital club is owned by Oryx Qatar Sports Investments, and receives cash injections every summer to invest in players. Signing Neymar for €220 million and Kylian Mbappe for €180 million are proof of the same.
Dembele’s intent of staying and proving himself to Camp Nou faithfuls has been quite clear from his time under Ernesto Valverde, who often played him on the right side of a 4-4-2 or as a left winger in a 4-3-3. While initially the World Cup winner’s work rate was questioned, he gradually started putting in more of a shift, dropping as deep as the full-back to defend, and pressing opposition defenders, pinning them back.
These attributes will help him fit into Thomas Tuchel’s work-rate heavy system at Paris. The German manager prefers players who press constantly and cut passing lanes. Moreover, Dembele has played under Tuchel at Dortmund, where he was courted by various top clubs across Europe. This will give the two the chance to work again, and maybe rediscover Dembele’s scintillating form.
PSG getting the former BVB winger’s signature will also be the means to another reunion, that of Dembele and Mbappe. The two Frenchman are rather good friends off the pitch, and have often come out in praise for each other. They also seem to have a good understanding on the pitch – often visible in France’s training clips.
This will also be Dembele’s chance to return to Ligue 1, where he initially made a name for himself playing for Stade Rennais. The 22-year-old has plenty experience in France, and it would be no shock if he’s able to resurrect his career there.
The Coronavirus lockdown has not only been troubling for football fans, but also to clubs, who have all taken a massive hit because of lost revenue. However, apart from the known richer clubs, Bayern Munich is one of the teams that may just be able to fare well after sporting action resumes.
That is because of years of great investment, involving signing great players for low amounts and wages. It is only in the last window that we saw Bayern actually splashing out cash to fill in some holes within their squad, majorly in defence. The Bavarians also tried to sign Leroy Sane for €100 million, which is rather unlike them. That is because Bayern is desperate for world-class wingers.
Last year we witnessed the end of one of the best partnerships in modern football as Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben played their last games for Die Roten. Bayern have not been shy to show that they are in acute need of wingers ever since the duo started getting old, and riddled with injuries in the last phases of their career.
In an attempt to attain players in said position, they ended up signing Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho on loan, both of whom have been nothing more than average.
An injury-prone Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry are their only out-and-out wingers at the moment. Hans-Dieter Flick has also tried playing Leon Goretzka and Thomas Muller on the wing to give rest to their attackers. The decision to play Alphonso Davies as left-back was a risky one, but has paid off rather well for them.
Ousmane Dembele might be a far-fetched option for Bayern, specially because of Coman, who himself is as injury-prone if not more. However, there’s a chance that the two forwards end up sharing their workload through rotation, reducing injury chances. Moreover, Dembele would be an excellent fit in Flick’s extremely fast paced counter-attack ing system where the attack is built through the wings.
€60 million is still a lot of money for an injury- troubled attacker, but it is a risk that Bayern will have to take if they want to work on their squad depth. If they are somehow able to get the best out of him, he’ll be another ex-player who will run riot against Dortmund as a Bayern player.