The World Cup-winning forward has enjoyed a return to form and fitness in 2020-21, with struggles at Camp Nou being shaken off
Ousmane Dembele believes he has turned a corner at Barcelona, with the World Cup winner feeling he is starting to justify his €105 million (£92m/$128m) price tag after arriving at Camp Nou “very frail”.
The Liga giants invested heavily in the French forward’s potential after the record-breaking sale of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017.
Big things were expected of Dembele but, amid questions of his fitness and attitude, it is only recently that he has started to deliver on expectations.
What has been said?
“I’ve changed a lot,” Dembele has told UEFA’s official website when reflecting on his time at Barca. “How have I changed the most? Physically, I think. When I came here, I was very frail.
“Even when I was starting out professionally at Stade Rennais and Borussia Dortmund, I was very frail, but I’ve come on a long way at Barcelona with the physical trainers. My way of training, my way of preparing for matches, it’s all changed.
“The years go by and I’m growing up, so it’s kind of normal for me to change a bit. I’m more comfortable, I feel good here in Barcelona and in my own life.
“Even though I had three years of little physical problems, those are the challenges of life, and that’s just how it is. You have to face them with a smile.”
Dembele’s record at Barcelona
The 23-year-old has taken his overall tally of appearances for the Blaugrana to 100, with 25 goals and 20 assists.
He has found the target on six occasions this season while teeing up four efforts for team-mates, and is starting to find the consistency that has been lacking since he completed his big-money move.
Working with some of the finest talent in the business is aiding that cause, with the France international taking as many lessons as possible from Lionel Messi and co.
He has added: “There are world-class players here whom you learn from every day. I’ve been able to play alongside Andres Iniesta, Luis Suarez. They gave me a lot of advice when I joined. Lionel Messi too.
“Leo is a genius, we all know about him. He’s a genius, he’s the best player in the history of football. He inspired me when I was young, he inspires me now, and it’s honestly an honour for me to play alongside him.”