Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi has praised “phenomenon” Ousmane Dembélé, who he feels has learnt from his past mistakes.
Dembele’s performances on the pitch have drastically improved this season following his move to the Catalonian club at the beginning of last term.
What “mistakes” did Dembele made at Barcelona?
- Barcelona signed Dembele from Borussia Dortmund for a reported €145 million fee last January.
- Dembele, 21, was criticised by former teammates for the manner in which he left BVB.
- Dembele has reportedly been late for several of Ernesto Valverde’s training sessions and Barcelona say they were aware of indiscipline issues before signing the player.
- He was told by Luis Suarez to “focus on football” and Dembele has already on apologised to the Barca dressing room.
- Dembele has scored seven goals despite making only 11 starts for Barcelona in La Liga this season.
Dembele has been the subject of intense scrutiny in Spain since joining Barcelona, though much of this has centred on off-field matters. Amid reports Dembele had on several occasions been late to training and developed an unhealthy relationship with video games, the player was recently told by teammate Luis Suarez to focus on football.
One man who has dedicated his life to becoming a world-class footballer is Messi, who believes that Dembele has vastly improved on the pitch but needs to continue with his progress away from the action.
Speaking to Spanish news outlet Marca, Messi said: “On the pitch, he is a phenomenon and it depends on him, he has all the opportunity in the world to do what he wants.
“He can be one of the best. On the other hand, he’s a young guy who is adapting to the city and the club.
“The less you speak about it, the better. It’s necessary to leave him so he can be calm.
“He has already realised his mistakes and has rectified them. We are going to help him focus on football.”
“Don’t make a drama of Dembele”
The Frenchman has proved doubters wrong this season having rediscovered his goalscoring touch and ability to scare the life out of opposition defenders.
Last season, Dembele was unlucky to pick up a nasty hamstring injury that kept him out of the Barcelona line-up for a few months, disrupting his move from Borussia Dortmund to play in La Liga.
Off the field, Dembele has been criticised for his poor attitude to dedicating his life solely on professional football.
Further advice has been offered to Dembele by former Juventus and France full-back Lillian Thuram, who also explained why there is no need to dramatise the player’s alleged poor conduct at Barcelona.
He told Mundo Deportivo: “The most important thing is that he is a great player. I would tell him to learn from veterans.
“I’ve also been young and when you get to a team you should look at the older ones.
“Nor should we make a drama of this subject. If I started talking about the players I saw in my career who did not do everything right, I would not stop for a month.”