Ousmane Dembele is Barca’s ultimate PlayStation footballer & it’s lots of fun

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Ousmane Dembele really likes playing PlayStation. At times at Barcelona it has been his downfall. At others, it can potentially be a strength.

In November 2018, Dembele’s love of video games became a hot topic in think pieces on Barcelona. Some reports described it as an “addiction”, one suggested the forward was “self-destructing”.

One story doing the rounds revealed Dembele, who had flattered to deceive at the Camp Nou following his £135.5million move from Borussia Dortmund, had missed Barcelona training complaining of  “gastroenteritis”, only for a club doctor to visit his home and find he had spent all night playing PlayStation with his friends, many of whom were still laying around asleep.

The condemnation was universal. Dembele needed to realise that his performances on the pitch reflect his life off it.

Watching Dembele as Barcelona thrashed Sevilla 4-0 on Sunday evening, it was hard to disagree; as the 22-year-old toyed with defenders and scored his side’s third goal, there were moments in which he looked like he was controlling himself on the latest edition of FIFA.

There is an alluring ease with which the France international glides across the pitch, allowing him to ghost past opposition players with ease, only ever requiring half a gap to shift into space thanks to his natural speed.

His crowning moment came in the 35th minute, shortly after Barca had already scored twice in quick succession through Luis Suarez’s outstanding overhead kick and Arturo Vidal’s strike.

Bearing down on Sevilla’s goal, Dembele’s pace took any covering midfielders out of the game, and any FIFA player worth their salt would have seen the defender coming across and tried to pull off the classic ‘circle to shoot, X to dummy, R1 + circle to place the ball into the bottom corner’.

The thought is the easy part. As we all know, the execution is an entirely different matter. We probably don’t need to tell you at this point that Dembele nailed it, leaving Sevilla’s Diego Carlos on his arse while calmly passing the ball into the bottom corner in one swift movement.

The goal brought to mind El Pais journalist Ramon Besa’s description of Dembele as “a free-verse footballer, a loose player” in a Bleacher Report article last year.

But while Dembele’s talent has never been questioned, the same can not be said of his temperament, and this often leads to Jekyll and Hyde performances not only from week to week but often in the same game.

Former Atletico Madrid striker Kiko once described Dembele as “the most contradictory player I’ve seen”, and Sunday was the perfect example as a promising first half was followed by a more frustrating second period in which he had to watch on while Lionel Messi stole the plaudits with his 100th goal from outside the box for Barcelona with yet another stunning free-kick.

Whether it was that frustration or his immaturity rearing its head once more, Dembele’s subsequent red card for dissent in the 88th minute was reminiscent of a forlorn teenager rage quitting on Ultimate Team.

After youngster Ronald Araujo had been sent off for the hosts for a professional foul, Dembele reportedly told referee Miguel Antonio Mateu Lahoz: “Very bad, you’re very bad.”

It has been suggested one of the reasons Dembele has found it difficult to settle in Spain has been his struggle to learn the language, and manager Ernesto Valverde joked after the sending off: “It’s a mystery. It’s hard to get a phrase out of him in Spanish. It won’t have been a long phrase, for sure.”

But precedent suggests he is now facing a two-match ban, which would rule him out of the Clasico clash with Real Madrid following the international break, meaning Dembele’s penchant for self-sabotage shows no signs of slowing up – you can insert your own jokes about him now being linked with a move to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United here.

Perhaps this is where we will always be with Dembele, and perhaps it’s time to embrace that fact.

When Gary Neville described David Luiz as playing “like he is being controlled by a 10-year-old on a PlayStation”, it was intended as an insult.

When we describe Ousmane Dembele as playing like he is being controlled by a 10-year-old on PlayStation, we mean it as a compliment.


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