Dembele returns to training after a difficult year

Dan and guest co-host Victor Valencheck discussed the difficult situation involving Ousmane Dembele and Malcom on the latest edition of The Barcelona Podcast, episode 97:

By guest contributor Soham Banerjee (@IamSohamB).

Ousmane Dembele's FC Barcelona career started quite unceremoniously. After sitting out Borussia Dortmund's preseason to force the move, he signed for 105 million euros in August 2017. It was expected that he would hit the ground running at the Camp Nou. Sadly, things didn't seem to work out for him.

Not only did he battle the lack of a preseason, but on September 15th he suffered a serious injury by rupturing a tendon in his left thigh, sidelining him for almost four months. Less than a month after his return, he found himself on the training table against with another hamstring injury, raising concerns regarding his fitness. He played a grand total of 930 minutes in La Liga, which barely equals ten games. There were fears that his tumultuous season were keep him out of the World Cup, but Didier Deschamps selected him anyway.

Beginning his journey at the World Cup as a starter, he was quickly moved to the bench and hardly featured in the knockout rounds. France won the World Cup, but Dembele didn't play a major part. His full-year without achieving proper form is a disconcerting sign heading into another season in Catalonia.

Barcelona signed Brazilian forward Malcom on July 24, 2018, a player with a similar profile and playing style to Dembele. Various reports came stating that Dembele was unsure about his future at Barcelona and other clubs including Arsenal were interested in signing him. Things got bizarre when the youngster started liking tweets that were criticizing him as he was vacationing with former teammates and current Arsenal players.

The worry of his interactions with such tweets is that they could heavily affect the confidence of the player. A very talented, promising youngster must keep his morale and confidence up. Andre Gomes is a cautionary tale of what the negativity of a fan base can do to a player.

To think that Dembele would want to leave Barcelona after just one year, and for less than four healthy months, is naive. This is a player that went on strike at Borussia Dortmund to join Barcelona. He is only 20-years-old; the club and the fan base should restore their faith in the young talent. A multi-dimensional, fast, skillful player with great potential needs the faith and support of Cules. He has chosen to cut short his vacation after the World Cup to rejoin training and prove himself worthy of a spot in Ernesto Valverde's starting line-up. Força Ousmane!