Spanish publication Sport have mooted Arsenal as potential suitors for Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele.
The 23-year-old has endured something of a troubled spell at the Nou Camp after excelling at Rennes and Borussia Dortmund, having struggled to hold down a consistent spot in the starting XI - in part due to some serious injuries - despite costing the club an initial £97m.
Sport claim that Barcelona actually need Dembele more than ever right now after offloading other attacking personnel during the summer and losing Ansu Fati to injury, but his contract situation means the La Liga giants are still open to offers.
The winger’s current deal expires in just over 18 months, and thus Barcelona only have two transfer windows left to make some of their money back.
Now valued at £45m by Transfermarkt, Arsenal could well land one of European football’s most talented young players at a comparatively modest price.
But would Dembele be a good signing for the Gunners? GIVEMESPORT consider three potential consequences of an Arsenal swoop…
Goodbye Nicolas Pepe
It’s safe to say Nicolas Pepe’s Arsenal career has been a bit of a disaster. Signed in summer 2019 for a club-record £72m, Pepe managed only 22 starts in the Premier League last season and played the full ninety minutes on just half of those occasions.
Following the summer arrival of Willian, he’s made only one top flight start so far this term and while Europa League form has been good - two goals and two assists in three appearances - ultimately Pepe is still yet to make his mark in north London. He’s clearly a talented player but seems to struggle to function as one cog in a top-quality team, rather than simply being the star man like he was at Lille.
Financially, Pepe’s becoming a black hole for Arsenal - he’s also taking home £100k per week - so if the club were to bring in another likeminded wide forward in Dembele, one can only assume it would be a matter of time before the Gunners cut their losses on the Ivory Coast international.
It’s hard to imagine any club paying close to what Arsenal did, however.
Aubameyang enjoys a new supply line
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s sudden slump in goalscoring form has been one of the more worrying trends of Arsenal’s season, having failed to find the net in open play since signing a new contract in September.
But it must be said that the Gunners really aren’t making things easy for their main man. In addition to the fact Mikel Arteta continually elects to play him on the left wing, Arsenal just aren’t creating enough chances at the moment. They currently rank a mere 14th throughout the Premier League for key passes this season, with their 53 being the same return as rock-bottom Sheffield United’s.
It would be an exaggeration to claim Dembele’s an Ozil-esque orchestrator, but his prior history for chance creation is nothing to be sniffed at. Back in the 2016/17 season at Borussia Dortmund, the Frenchman notched up 18 assists in the Bundesliga and the Champions League, while in all three of his La Liga seasons he’s averaged 1.6 key passes per match - a better rate than any Arsenal player has managed in the Premier League this term.
Another stumbling block for Reiss Nelson
Spare a thought for Reiss Nelson. Having originally made his Gunners debut in 2017, the wider expectation was for him to become a regular member of Arsenal’s first-team squad by now, but he’s found his pathway to such status continually blocked.
In 2018/19, was sent out on loan to Hoffenheim and despite largely impressing with seven goals in the Bundesliga, upon his return was immediately placed behind new club-record signing Pepe in the pecking order.
That resulted in him making only seven starts last season and while Pepe’s aforementioned struggles should have opened a few doors for the current campaign, Arteta instead elected to bring in Willian on a free transfer. While Nelson’s started one Premier League game this season, the Gunners’ new recruit has started seven.
Dembele would represent yet another hurdle for Nelson, and yet another more experienced wide player he’s somehow got to overtake in the pecking order. Due to turn 21 in December, Nelson doesn’t have too long left before his reputation twists from promising prospect to youngster who never quite made it.
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