Barcelona were right to reject Arsenal offer but Dembele must improve goal tally

first_imgAfter a difficult first season at the Camp Nou Ousmane Dembélé was offered an escape when Arsenal came calling this summer only for Barcelona to double down.His manager Ernesto Valverde has thrown his weight behind the Frenchman, and it’s time for the 21-year-old to repay that in a season that will make or break his Barça career. smart causal Every Championship club’s best signing of the decade, including Taarabt and Dack “For a striker as long as they have chances on goal I think it’s a good thing – goals always come based on the chances you have,” the Barça boss said when asked about the France international’s game by talkSPORT post-match.“The problem is when you’re a striker and you come back to the dressing room without being involved in play. Dembélé hasn’t been decisive in his finishing, but the fact that he is in those positions, he has chances and he’s close to goal is good for us.”For now, Valverde is trying to nurture rather than criticise then, but a willingness to show patience in someone who despite the huge expectations and price tag is still a developing youngster should not be confused with blind faith. Scoring wondergoals from distance as he has on a couple of occasions is a useful tool but the kind of chances Dembélé missed on Saturday will be his bread and butter and he will have to start scoring them sooner rather than later. Otherwise, the ruthlessly short hourglass at the Camp Nou will eventually run out on his time there just as it did for so many competent footballers before. 4 ALTERED highlights Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele in action against Deportivo Alaves. smart causal Dembélé is evidently up against enough at the Camp Nou then, but the challenge he faces is magnified even further by several factors. To start with there’s the significant fact that he was brought in to replace Neymar, someone who during his time in Barcelona developed into one of the top three players in the world, scoring important goals and even succeeding where others have failed in picking up some of the slack from Lionel Messi.Second, signed at the age of only 20, the France international came with the pressure of a then club record price tag hanging over his head – of which he was reminded on a regular basis by the sporting press. Third, to complete the hat-trick, he was derailed by a significant injury in his first league start for Barcelona, keeping him out of action for half the season in 2017-18 only for a repeat niggle to add an extra month of misery on the sidelines. RANKED Dembele was part of France’s World Cup winning squad this summer gameday cracker possible standings How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures Latest Football News How Arsenal could line up in Arteta’s first official game in charge – Ozil return? Guardiola-inspired tactics: Is this how Arsenal will line up under Arteta? changes latest Did Mahrez just accidentally reveal Fernandinho is leaving Man City this summer? SORRY It is only really now, in his second year at the club, that Dembélé really has a chance to show his boss what he is made of therefore. The fact that we will get to do so at all is down to Barcelona resisting at least one opportunity to get rid.The additions of Philippe Coutinho and Brazilian winger Malcom in the last year mean more bodies up front in the Catalan capital, but despite their increased options, Barcelona paid no heed to an offer from Arsenal to take the French forward on loan to the Emirates for the year – a move that could have alleviated some of the already immense pressure that is on his shoulders and allowed him to find some form in a less intense environment.Now, it’s all about how Dembélé responds to the club and his manager’s backing. He got off to a flying start in the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla. Showing the confidence you would expect of a newly crowned World Cup winner, with the score 1-1 and the clock edging closer towards extra time, Barça’s number 11 received the ball from Messi just outside the area and smashed in a screamer on his right foot, thundering off the crossbar and into the net to win the trophy for the Blaugrana. A goal fitting of a Barcelona player. Best clips, calls and talkSPORT moments of 2019, feat Hearn, McCoist and more revealed Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT 4 predicted Sky Sports presenter apologises for remarks made during Neville’s racism discussion MONEY 4 Forbes list reveals how much Mayweather, Ronaldo and Messi earned this decade Barcelona is different. Countless are the times when a player who has looked a perfect fit for the club on paper has struggled to meet expectations before eventually being deemed surplus to requirements – and making that essential “click” happen often defies logic.Alexis Sánchez is one of the outstanding Premier League forwards of the last few years, but he was never able to find the relentless consistency required to be a Barça player and was subsequently let go. Arda Turan was the peak of technical excellence at Atlético Madrid but looked a shadow of his cocky, confident former self at the Camp Nou – he is now in Turkey. Even Cesc Fàbregas, who had the significant advantage of being educated in the house that Johan Cruyff built, produced diminishing returns after being brought home to his boyhood club and was eventually cut loose. 4 impact Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde watching Ousmane Dembele against Alaves. Top nine Premier League free transfers of the decade Tottenham predicted XI to face Brighton with Mourinho expected to make big changes How the Premier League table could change after the Boxing Day fixtures When the Frenchman did manage to receive possession in the box however, he suffered repeated instances of vertigo. First, by slicing a good chance teed up by a Suarez wide of the goal on the half hour mark. Then, by shooting tamely into Fernando Pacheco’s hands after being set loose with a long Messi pass soon after, and third, by not placing his shot properly when he had enough time to do so after being threaded in by the Argentinean once more.Before the half time whistle Dembélé had time to squander another, this time following a give and go with Alba that was finished poorly while off balance, rolling well beyond the outside post. A lack of accuracy and a cool head cost the attacker a goal from some of the best chances of the game before the opportunities dried up in the second half, though with Messi eventually producing one of his all-time great free-kicks to break the deadlock, and two more goals following from him and Coutinho, Valverde could be content with taking encouragement from Dembélé’s persistence and continued determination to make run after run despite not finding the net. gameday silverware Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade whoops silverware England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won On Saturday in Dembélé and Barça’s first league game of the season things were slightly less easy to quantify – primarily because he lacked the obvious marker of a goal. Against Deportivo Alavés, Valverde backed the 21-year-old, starting him on the left up front alongside Messi and Luis Suárez. Some improvements in his game compared to last season were notable, particularly in terms of positioning. The forward regularly managed to find pockets of space between the lines, in front of the Alavés back four and behind their midfield, either receiving the pass with his back to goal and laying it off quickly to Jordi Alba and Ivan Rakitic to keep play moving on the left, or turning and cutting inside in attempts to shift play into the middle, with some success.His off the ball runs in the final third also looked better synchronised with the rest of the Barça team than before, with diagonal movement from the flank inside repeatedly giving Messi the option of the raking ball behind that he so often loves to deploy, as well as offering space for Alba on the overlap. The average first-team salaries at every Premier League club in 2019 Most Popular Premier League News England’s most successful clubs of the past decade, according to trophies won Liverpool news live: Klopp reveals when Minamino will play and issues injury update NEW ERA Dembele has struggled for form since making his mega money move to Barcelona last summer possible standings Tottenham v Brighton LIVE: talkSPORT commentary and team news for Boxing Day opener How Everton could look in January under Ancelotti with new signings Every current Premier League club’s best kit from the past decade last_img

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