It’s not difficult to justify all the talk about Barcelona entertaining the thought of selling Ousmane Dembele.
The 21-year-old only arrived at the Nou Camp from Borussia Dortmund in August last year as part of a deal worth up to £135.5 million, but things just haven’t clicked for him.
While a series of injuries must take part of the blame for his inability to settle, Dembele hasn’t exactly helped himself either.
In November, Ernesto Valverde saw fit to drop him from the squad against Real Betis after he failed to attend a training session.
The fourth most expensive footballer of all-time then turned up two hours late for another session on Sunday, adding to a growing list of his misdemeanours off the pitch.
Based on what Urbano Ortega - who was assistant to former sporting director Robert Fernandez - it seems Barcelona had some idea of the caveats Dembele would bring with him to Catalonia.
“The people that surround Dembele don't help,” he told Spanish radio station COPE via ESPN.
“When we signed him, we already knew about his indiscipline problems.”
Dembele has been lauded time and time again as a player who could be one of the best in the world if he kept his head down.
And yet, he finds himself potentially being forced through the exit door less than 18 months after the transfer that could’ve made his career.
What’s more, the prospect of Dembele being used as makeweight to fund Neymar’s return from Paris Saint-Germain has added fuel to the fire.
It’s certainly feasible, but Robert Pires believes Barcelona should think very carefully about such a major decision.
“I love him [Dembele] very much,” the Arsenal legend told Mundo Deportivo, per the Mirror.
“We always talk about [Lionel] Messi, but this guy is very good.
“He's young but what he does we all did as kids. What you must do is self-impose discipline in your life, but he is young and with his quality and talent, he can help Barca to win the Champions League and also the league, as we have seen against Tottenham and Espanyol with great goals.
“If I had to choose, I would not change Dembele for Neymar.
“Ousmane is 21, plays with the left and the right [foot] with a lot of quality with the ball.
“He has a lot of potential, more than what we've seen so far.”
So, Pires clearly feels Dembele can offer more to Barcelona than Neymar.
It’s a big call, though it’s true the former Rennes prodigy has only offered glimpses of his quality so far.
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