FC Barcelona

Barcelona must restart Ousmane Dembele contract talks after El Clasico display

Matt O'Connor-Simpson
Dembele was excellent once again
Dembele was excellent once again / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages
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Sunday's Clasico was a football writer's dream, with Barcelona's shocking 4-0 dismantling of Real Madrid creating plenty of equally-comparing narratives to unpick.

For starters, the result starkly revealed Los Blancos frightening over-reliance on Karim Benzema, with Carlo Ancelotti deploying a bizarre striker-less system to try and paper over the cavernous cracks his absence created.

Or perhaps one could focus on the incredible redemption of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has gone from Premier League problem child to La Liga sensation overnight.

These were not the only threads to pull at either. Xavi's tactical nous, Pedri's startling game control, Frenkie de Jong's resurgence, the list goes on.

Perhaps the most remarkable story of all was that the both of Barcelona's first-half goals were assisted by a man that the club spent January trying desperately – and very publicly – to sell, Ousmane Dembele.

On the surface, the tale of Dembele's transfer window is one as old as time. Player wants lots of money, clubs offers slightly less than a lot of money, agent begins briefing that his client is in talks with rivals.

What made the situation unique was the public bile that Barça spouted when the player's representatives failed to respond to yet another of their contract ultimatums.

“It’s clear that Dembele does not want to continue with Barcelona,” director Mateu Alemany exclaimed at the time.

“He doesn’t want to be part of our project. We told Dembele he has to leave immediately. We expect Ousmane to be sold before 31 January.”

When no move materialised the Frenchman was roundly booed upon his return to Camp Nou and Xavi was not expected to use him at all for the remainder of the season, while 90min understands Chelsea and PSG are both keen on completing a deal for him.

Yet, after a brief spell on the naughty step, Dembele has returned to the fray more recently and consistently reminded us why La Blaugrana dropped well over €100m on him in the first place.

This quite incredible career resurrection reached a cruseudo in Sunday's Clasico with Dembele's electric performance giving Barcelona little choice but to swallow their pride and return to the negotiating table 'immediately'. Get it?

The Frenchman had Nacho as a light snack throughout the first half, bursting past the makeshift left-back as if he was a dummy on the training field.

Often derided for a lack of end product, Dembele used one of these darts forward to devastating effect in the first half, capitalising on the space he had created by setting up Aubameyang for the game's opener.

A second assist – this time a pinpoint delivery from a corner – would follow before the interval. It represented his seventh goal involvement in just four La Liga games.

Although Dembele is not perfect quite yet – a few times he forced it when simply recycling the ball would have done the job – he clearly has a future in this more direct, less possession-obsessed incarnation of Barcelona.

A few months back Xavi was scoffed at for suggesting that the 24-year-old still has time to become the best player in the world in his position. After another storming performance in El Clasico, his prediction does not look so crazy after all.

It would likely be a momentum-sapping misstep for Barcelona to let him walk for free in the summer without giving one last stab at getting him to pen fresh terms. If no agreement can be reached then someone is getting one hell of wide-man 'for nothing'.


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