Ousmane Dembele had been written off by plenty of fans and pundits alike, but the Barcelona winger is now in the form of his life after a remarkable turnaround under Xavi.
When the French attacker signed for Barca in 2017, he was tipped for stardom with fans speaking about him as if he was a Ballon d’Or winner in waiting.
Back in 2017, Dembele ranked as one of the best dribblers in Europe during his time with Borussia Dortmund, completing over three dribbles per game on average.
He produced 18 assists and scored eight goals during his final season with the German club and he looked like a worthy contender to step into Neymar’s boots at Camp Nou.
Dembele’s natural ability has never really been called into question, rather his tactical understanding of how Barcelona play and his worrying injury record.
Since signing for the Catalans, Dembele has missed over 100 matches through injury. A hamstring problem during his first season with the club meant that he only started in 12 league matches.
His first few years at Barcelona were ultimately summed up by the gilt-edge chance he missed against Liverpool in the 2018-19 Champions League semi-final, which would have put his side 4-0 up on the night.
Dembele won Liverpool the champions league pic.twitter.com/fxmD26jbrN
— Kamran Ali (@Kamran2904) June 2, 2019
His least productive season came the following year, in 2019-20, where he spent the majority of the season on the treatment table and only scored one goal across all competitions.
As Barca could no longer rely on his fitness, they began investing in other wide players which saw Dembele slip further down the pecking order. The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ferran Torres and Memphis Depay were all added to the squad.
The club has been heavily criticised for the huge transfer fees paid in recent seasons and came in for a backlash after spending over £100million on Dembele, written off as another expensive failure.
The 25-year-old started to show signs of life again in 2021-22 as he produced 13 assists and stepped up in the absence of Lionel Messi but a contract dispute meant that he was jeered by his own fans in February last year.
In the end, a new contract was finalised for the French World Cup winner and he has not looked back since. We’ve picked out nine stats which showcase his remarkable Barcelona turnaround under Xavi.
– Dembele has completed 21 successful dribbles this season which is more than any other Barcelona player.
– He has produced 61 shot-creating actions in La Liga this season at an average of 5.10 per 90 minutes. Pedri is the only other Barcelona player to have produced more than 50 this season.
– He is one of only two players to have scored five goals and provided five assists in La Liga this season, after Griezmann.
Ousmane Dembélé VS Real Sociedad 🔥 pic.twitter.com/qtr5FURrg8
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona_es) January 26, 2023
– Dembele has a Whoscored average match rating of 7.23, which is higher than any other right-winger in La Liga.
– Without Dembele’s goal contributions in the league, Barcelona would be below Real Madrid and would currently be level on points with Real Sociedad.
– Dembele has created 34 chances in La Liga which is more than any other Barcelona or Real Madrid player.
– He is averaging a goal contribution every 108 minutes in the league. Prior to this season, he was averaging a goal contribution every 134 minutes for Barcelona in La Liga.
– Dembele is taking an average of 2.2 shots per game, which is more than he has averaged in any other season for Barcelona, highlighting how he is now the focal point of their attacks.
– Barcelona have averaged 2.61 points per game in La Liga this season when Dembele has started. If they were to average that tally all season they would finish their campaign with 99 points.
– He has produced more goal contributions so far this season (15) than he did in the entirety of his first season with Barcelona (13).