After losing Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona acted quickly to secure the services of a player with the potential to one day be as good as the Brazilian forward.
They decided Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele, 20 at the time, ticked all the boxes and forked out a cool £96.8 million for his services - a fee that could potentially rise up to £135.5 million.
"I'm very happy to be here. It has always been my dream to be at Barcelona and now I'm here I'm very happy,” Dembele told reporters after completing his big-money move to the Camp Nou. "It is the best club in the world with the best players in the world."
Handed Neymar’s old No. 11 shirt, Dembele won the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey during his debut season with Barça.
However, a succession of untimely injuries limited him to just 23 appearances during his debut campaign, in which he scored four goals.
Dembele has already netted more goals so far this season - six in 15 appearances - but his behaviour has become a problem in recent weeks.
Mundo Deportivo revealed earlier this month that Dembele angered Barça staff by not informing them that he planned to skip a training session because of illness.
There have also been several issues over his time-keeping. For example, he turned up almost half an hour late for a pre-match meeting before Barça’s Champions League clash against Inter Milan last month.
Dembele has been linked with moves to Arsenal and Liverpool but Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague’s honest verdict about the Frenchman may deter the two English clubs from attempting to sign him.
“Why would Arsenal go and get a player who has just been punished for disciplinary reasons by Barcelona?” Balague said on his YouTube channel, per the Daily Star.
“He has been pointed out by Ivan Rakitic and Gerard Pique, two leaders of the squad, that he needs to change.
“Someone mentioned Nicolas Anelka as a comparison.
“He has the ability but does not know what is required to be a professional of the highest standard.
“What I see is someone who is not comfortable at the top of the game.”
That is a damning assessment of Dembele’s personality, professionalism and attitude.
Balague has close ties to Barcelona - he’s written books on the Catalan giants, Lionel Messi and Pep Guardiola - so what he’s saying about Dembele is almost certainly accurate.
It appears that Barça, impressed by Dembele’s on-field qualities, are now paying the price for not doing their homework with regards to assessing his personality.News Now - Sport News