Commentary

Dembele, Neymar's successor, jumps into Barca hot seat

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 fifth division.

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.&rdquo

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3 comments about "Dembele, Neymar's successor, jumps into Barca hot seat".
  1. beautiful game, August 29, 2017 at 10:13 a.m.

    Failure in due diligence is costly. Barcelona front office made big mistakes in their 2016/2017 season acquisitions. This time, they made a humongous mistake for an unproven player. Pulisic would have been a much smarter choice for less cash and beaucoup up side potential.

  2. Fire Paul Gardner Now replied, August 29, 2017 at 10:44 a.m.

    I guess time will tell. I think Demebele is really good but the price tag is crazy. Dembele is also a year and a half older than Pulisic. If CP keeps up his strong start to the season, he could be in line for a similar move in a year or two.

  3. Eve Montgomery, August 31, 2017 at 12:52 a.m.

    I never understand why being uber-opinionated about a player's "value" is seen as virtuous. Dembele is very talented; his remarks (above) reflect class and poise. Money is just money; leave that to the suits.

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