The Great Gamble of Barcelona with Dembélé

Recently, a lot has been said about Ousmane Dembélé, the 20 year old French footballer that received worldwide attention after hitting the second most expensive transfer in football history for £97m (from Borussia Dortmund to FC Barcelona), just after the stratospheric £198m move of Neymar Jr. from FC Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain.

Indeed, Dembélé is going to be playing Neymar’s same position and, because of that, media all around the globe have rephrased the same question, asking if the favourite son of Mauritania has what it takes to pay off his transfer price with goals and skills of the quality of Messi, or if his big marketing brand and solid presence on the football field is going to be missed by all of the Barcelona FC fans in the upcoming seasons.

Photo: FC Barcelona via Facebook

Several comments have arisen so far and from very different points of view, starting from the lack of faith in the young player by soccer legends like Arsene Wenger. The Arsenal coach stated that Dembélé had to mature beyond his one season in Borussia Dortmund in order to deserve the multiplied increase of his card by almost ten times, since he was acquired by Borussia Dortmund from Rennes for just £12m in the summer of 2016.

During an interview, the Gunners legend commented that: “The amount of money is completely disconnected to reality and the truth,” when on another point of view, Barcelona’s coach, Ernesto Valverde, stood his decision to integrate the young player to the team after Neymar’s move out commenting that: "He's a player who guarantees an attacking threat, which is something we'd lost and badly needed."

Unfortunately for the head coach of Barcelona and for Josep Maria Bartomeu, the president of the club himself, a significant proportion of the 17,814 fans that arrived at Camp Nou for the official presentation of Dembélé at the club were chanting for the club’s president to resign, after his decision to sign the player and his insistence on also signing Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho.

It all ends up in a huge gamble from the side of the Barcelona directives on the historic signing of the young French player, granting him the world’s second most expensive market transfer when he starts his third season as a professional footballer. Barcelona's odds to win the league this season are 5/4 in the La Liga betting as fans hope the young Dembélé will pay dividends with goals, just like he did in the 2015-16 season at Ligue 1, scoring 12 goals in 26 matches for Rennes and earning his move to Germany.

In the meantime, the President of Mauritania, which is Dembélé’s native land, is ready to invite the young star to visit him in the African country according to local journalist Lassana Camara: “The day after the move to Barcelona was confirmed, an adviser of the President of the Republic, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, contacted me because the President wants to invite Ousmane to Mauritania”.

However, the country's President does not have the best relationship with African football; Aziz was accused of ordering the conclusion of a game via penalties at the 63rd minute in the Super Cup final between FC Tevragh-Zeina and ACS Ksar on November 2015, just because he was bored, an incident the Mauritanian Federation denies.