Ousmane Dembele hails Xavi & admits he always wanted Barcelona stay

Dembele is shining under Xavi
Dembele is shining under Xavi / Fran Santiago/GettyImages

Ousmane Dembele's future was one of the biggest topics of the first half of 2022. His Barcelona contract was winding down and there were suggestions that not only could the club not afford to re-sign him, but he may not want to remain at Camp Nou anyway.

All the speculation came to an end, however, when Dembele inked a new two-year deal to remain part of the team led by Xavi, whose impact on the deal is understood to have been significant.

Sitting down with Mundo Deportivo, Dembele reflected on the entire saga.

Xavi's impact

Are you enjoying your best moment at Barça?

"This year yes, and the last months of last year after Xavi arrived. Since then I have enjoyed my best moments at Barça."

What does Xavi ask of you at a tactical level?

"Xavi wants both wingers open, ready for one against one, giving assists and scoring goals. For me and the other wingers, his way of seeing football suits us very well."

Have you asked for any changes in your daily work? Your injury record is much better now.

"Yes, there have been changes. I work much more with physiotherapists and my personal physio, who I've had for almost three years. Here, I work a lot with Carlos Nogueira, the physio, he is very good.

"They key is working off the field. If you don't work off the field, you will surely get injured, as happened to me before, after I came here at 20 years old. Prevention did not work much and I had many injuries. It's clear that if you don't work, you can't enjoy football and you're not going to play much. Now, I am stronger."

What is your relationship with Xavi like?

"It's a bit like the relationship I had with Thomas Tuchel who was, until now, the coach with whom I had the best bond.

"The relationship with Xavi is very good. He always tells me the truth, supports me a lot and I'm happy with that. I like coaches who are straight with me. Xavi tells me the truth, if you're going to play, if you have to improve... I'm very happy with Xavi."

Ousmane Dembele has been a regular starter under Xavi this season
Ousmane Dembele has been a regular starter under Xavi this season / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Contract negotiations

You always said you wanted to stay, why did it take so long?

"I always told Xavi that I wanted to continue here, if he took a long time it was because of negotiations, but I always said that I wanted to continue at Barça and in the end we are all happy."

There were rumours you had a pre-agreement with a club?

"There was none of that, I only spoke with Barça. And I told my representative that it was only Barça."

Were you ever scared the renewal would not go through?

"Never. I dedicated myself to being focused on the field and playing, and I was always convinced that I was going to renew. I had a very good relationship with Xavi, the president and with Mateu Alemany. It was just a matter of negotiations.

"I had a very good vibe from the first day with [Joan] Laporta, [Rafael] Yuste and Alemany, with everyone."

What was it like in January, being dropped because of the renewal issue?

"I was alright, because I only focus on what happens on the pitch and on playing. I left the rest in the hands of my agent and the club. I was clear that I wanted to continue at Barça and that I was going to continue here. My representatives were, too.

You renewed for two seasons, would you like to stay for more?

"Yes, I am doing well here, very happy with the coach. I have a very good relationship with him and with the team. There are many young players, there is a very good atmosphere in the club and I am very happy to be here."