Ousmane Dembele doesn’t want to be known as Neymar’s replacement but it’s hard not to give the 20-year-old that tag following his move to Barcelona.
The Blaugrana used some of the £198 million they received from Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain to pay for Dembele, who cost them £135.5m, turning MSN into MSD.
Oh, and the Frenchman has taken on the number 11 shirt formerly worn by Neymar.
However, there was a sign during Barcelona’s 5-0 win over Espanyol on Saturday that Dembele can differentiate himself from the Brazilian at the Camp Nou.
Ernesto Valverde introduced his big-money signing in the 68th minute, with Barcelona already 3-0 up, and deployed him on the right wing, the opposing side that Neymar occupied at the club.
Dembele can play in any position across the front three but it was interesting to see him on the right, with Lionel Messi playing a false 9 role and Luis Suarez coming in from the left.
And early evidence suggests Barcelona’s new look attack will be just as devastating as the one that came before it.
Watch Dembele's highlights
Messi had already scored a hat-trick when Dembele was introduced and the France international arrived to heap more misery on Espanyol.
It didn’t take him long to make an impact, setting up Luis Suarez to score Barça’s fifth with an inch-perfect assist.
Barcelona fans will hope there are many similar moments to come. Watch his highlights in the video below.
Barcelona are top of the pile
Barcelona’s day was made even better by Real Madrid’s failure to overcome Levante in the lunchtime kick-off.
It’s early days, of course, but with Cristiano Ronaldo’s suspension, it was vitally important for Valverde’s side to capitalise on Los Blancos being without their star man for the opening weeks of the season.
Which they have. Barcelona lead the way with nine points from nine and Valverde is delighted to be on top.
"We are at the beginning of the season and the distances are not significant but it is better to be ahead than behind," the Spaniard said after the match, per Marca.
"It does not mean anything, but being ahead is always good."
Ronaldo still has one game left on a five-match ban he received for shoving the referee in the Spanish Super Cup last month.
The battle can truly get underway when the Portuguese superstar returns.
Will Ousmane Dembele be a hit at Barcelona? Let us know in the comments section below!
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