Ousmane Dembele admits he wasted FIVE YEARS of his Barcelona career struggling with injuries, poor form and disciplinary issues before finally finding form – and feared he would ‘stagnate’ if he didn’t banish his fitness woes
- Ousmane Dembele admits he wasted time at Barcelona after joining in 2017
- The 25-year-old has been plagued by a series of hamstring injuries in his career
- Barcelona almost forced the winger out after his contract expired last year
- Dembele says he is happy with the club and wants to win the Champions League
Ousmane Dembele has admitted he has ‘wasted’ the last five years of his life at Barcelona and fears he could ‘stagnate’ if he doesn’t address his injury woes.
The 25-year-old joined the Catalan club from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and initially struggled to live up to the milestone The club paid a £135million fee for him after being plagued by recurrent soft tissue injuries over the past five years.
Life in Spain did not get off to a smooth start for the winger after he was ruled out for the majority of the 2017/18 season with a hamstring injury within weeks of joining the club.
Ousmane Dembele admits he wasted five years of his career during a tough spell at Barcelona
Hamstring injuries have plagued the winger’s time at Barcelona since he returned in 2017
That would become a recurring problem as the France international has reportedly missed around 102 games for Barcelona since arriving, despite making 158 appearances and scoring 34 goals for the club.
Since then, Dembele has turned around his form under new boss Xavi, scoring two goals and providing four assists in seven starts under the Spaniard this season. Last season he managed 13 assists in LaLiga under Ronald Koeman and Xavi.
But speaking to RMC Sport, Dembele reflected on his tough times and how he has ‘wasted’ a large part of his Nou Camp career.
“My lifestyle in my first years at Barca? I was young like everyone else. But I managed to get out of this situation. However, not everything is as you imagine it to be. From 2017 to 2021 I wasted my time enormously. I wasted five years of my life.
“I had to work to play and perform. I wanted to be healthy, be healthy, be able to play and then gradually get better.
Dembele has put his fitness and form woes behind him and is shining under Xavi (R)
Dembele underwent hamstring surgery in 2020 and missed almost the entire season. He admitted the club had told him he needed to get stronger to avoid getting injured in the future.
“I’ve had a lot of hamstring injuries. If you don’t work, you stagnate. You’re going to hurt yourself if you don’t get stronger, they told me. Things got better with Koeman and Xavi. Since then I haven’t had any injuries. Fingers crossed, we keep working.
“I’m fine, I feel good at Barcelona, I have the confidence of the whole team, the whole club and I’m happy. Now everyone is talking about football, that’s better.
Rumors of his exit have dominated the headlines in recent years and that almost materialized in January when talks over a Blaugrana contract extension stalled and Dembele was nearly squeezed out by the struggling club.
While Dembele previously insisted he never wanted to leave Barcelona, he claimed that it was Xavi who helped make him stay and perform at the Camp Nou and that he is now content at the club.
“It got better with Koeman and Xavi. Since then I haven’t had any injuries. Fingers crossed, we keep working.
Dembele claims things have improved since Ronald Koeman and Xavi arrived at Barcelona
“Keep your fingers crossed, we keep working. I’m fine, I feel good at Barcelona, I have the confidence of the whole team, the whole club and I’m happy. Now everyone is talking about football, that’s better.
“With Xavi’s confidence, I was forced to stay. I really want Barca to win the Champions League again. It’s been seven years since the club won it.
He signed a new two-year deal back in July and has accepted a 40 per cent pay cut as Barcelona try to cope with their financial struggles, while Dembele will receive a 50 per cent cut in his transfer fee if a club pays over £43m for him.