Ousmane Dembele has once again been linked with a move away from Barcelona.
The 22-year-old has struggled to set the world alight at the Camp Nou despite scoring 19 goals and providing 17 assists in 74 games for the Blaugrana. As such, it is now being reported that he could be out of the door in Spain, with Liverpool said to be interested in his progress. A fee of €100m would likely persuade Barca to sell.
The big fat Liverpool quiz of 2019 – how much do you remember about the last year at Anfield?
On the left-wing, the Reds already have one of the very best in the world in Sadio Mane. The Senegal international has recently been crowned African Player of the Year, and he also finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or rankings as well. Considering Dembele’s current form – he has started just three league matches this term and is currently out injured – it is almost impossible to imagine him taking Mane’s place.
However, at his very best, the France international can match the former Southampton star’s influence, if not better it. The 2017/18 was his best term to date, a campaign during which he scored eight goals and provided 21 assists in all competitions. Mane’s best season was arguably last year, one during which he won the Premier League Golden Boot and which contributed mainly to his high ranking for a number of individual awards. Yet he managed just two more goal contributions – 26 goals and five assists – across that campaign than Dembele at his height.
In that Bundesliga term for Borussia Dortmund, Dembele averaged two key passes and 3.2 completed dribbles per match. Mane, meanwhile, had 1.3 and 1.4 respectively last term. The former Stade Rennais man amassed 13 assists, as well, whilst the 27-year-old managed just two in the Premier League. As per WhoScored, Dembele even had a better average rating, with 7.44 compared to 7.43.
In the Champions League, the difference was even bigger. Dembele had an average rating of 7.5, with Mane lagging behind on 7.12. With 2.1 key passes and three dribbles per match, he again trumped the African winger, who managed just 1.2 and 2.2 respectively.
All of this is not to say that Dembele is better, of course. A great player is one who can do it year-in year-out, just like Mane has done. But at his best, the younger of the two is arguably more dangerous, at least from a creative point of view, than Mane. He has struggled in Spain, yes, and certainly has some attitude problems – he has been constantly late to training and there have been worrying reports of an addiction to video games and junk food – that need addressing. But a union with Klopp – both of whom have walked common paths by being associated with Dortmund – could elevate him to superstar status. Mane will be 28 this year, whilst Dembele will be just 23 in May. In the long-term, he could be his replacement.
Elsewhere, Liverpool are interested in this cheaper Jadon Sancho alternative.