No player will be under more pressure this season than 20-year-old Ousmane Dembele.
Two years ago, he was still playing for Rennes' second team in the equivalent of the French
On Monday, he was introduced as Barcelona's new signing, the second most expensive signing in history for a transfer fee of $176 million. Dembele's move from Borussia
Dortmund followed one season at Rennes, where he scored 12 goals in 26 goals, and one season in Germany, where his total was six Bundesliga goals in 32 games.
His presentation at the Camp
Nou drew 17,000 fans, and they were not happy to wait in the heat for the signing ceremony to begin.
The ceremony was delayed an hour while last-minute paperwork was sorted out with
Borussia Dortmund, and antsy fans took it out on Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu
asking him resign and showing support for Joan Laporta
, the former Barcelona president.
Whether he wants to or not, the pressure will be on the young Dembele as the replacement for Neymar
, who left for Paris St. Germain.
“I don’t feel pressure from
these numbers," he said of the crowd. "In fact, more than pressure, it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Dembele's signing followed Neymar’s departure to Paris St. Germain when
it paid the fee in the release clause of his contract.
“There’s a big difference between Neymar and me," said the 20-year-old Frenchman. "Neymar is one of the best players in
the world, I am very young. I’m improving day to day, trying to improve and to grow.
”I’m not here to replace Neymar. They needed a player in this position, they called
me and I will give everything for this club. I’m 20, I have a lot to learn and that’s why I’m at this big club.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to play in a
team with Lionel Messi, I want to learn from him. He’s a great player, the best player in the history of soccer and I’m happy to grow in this team.”