When Ousmane Dembele signed for Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund, it seemed to be a huge statement from the Catalans that they were still going places.
Although his €100m+ fee was considered steep, Dortmund were very firm in their negotiations. Pay up or he stays.
The player himself eventually went on strike to force through the move, and that hinted at the type of character the Blaugranes were getting.For all of his evident talent, there was certainly another side to the youngster that would eventually trouble the powers that be at the Camp Nou.
The issue of his off field activities really would never have become a thorny issue if he were producing on the pitch.
Being injury prone certainly hasn’t helped his cause either, because when he’s looked at the top of his game, invariably, he’s suffered a setback which has kept him out of the team for sustained long periods.
When he has had a run, frustratingly, he’s looked like a world beater and a Sunday league player in the same game.
Give him space to run into, and there’s probably not a defender in Europe that could keep pace with him.
His final product needs work, but that at least is something that can be coached.
What he really needs to look at is his application. His international colleague and current club team-mate, Antoine Griezmann is the perfect example to follow.
Clearly, another big name with a reputation to boot, Griezmann has applied himself in every game he’s played, working hard to improve each and every week.
Dembele still strolls around looking lost at times, and the amount of times he gives the ball away in a game is preposterous for a player of his talent.
It begs the question as to how many lives Barcelona are going to give him.
The club can’t keep on hoping that they might consistently see the best of him. They didn’t pay for hope, they paid for the finished product – for all intents and purposes.
As we move towards the end of the year, the spectre of Neymar returning to Barcelona will dominate the column inches again.
Whilst we know that any potential move is going to be fraught with difficulties, it’s certainly not out of the question.
Dembele would do well to bear that in mind.
The youngster could make himself a great at the Camp Nou, but if he doesn’t pull his socks up in the next few games, there’s every chance he’ll be used as a makeweight in the Brazilian’s homecoming.