Ousmane Dembele admits he has wasted FIVE YEARS of his career at Barcelona amid battles with injuries, poor form and disciplinary issues before finally hitting 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 blighted by a string of hamstring injuries in his career
- Barcelona nearly forced the winger to leave last year after his contract expired
- Dembele says he is content at the club and wants to win the Champions League
Ousmane Dembele has admitted he ‘wasted the last five years of his life’ at Barcelona and feared that he could ‘stagnate’ if he didn’t get to the bottom of his injury woes.
The 25-year-old joined the Catalonian club from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and initially struggled to live up to the landmark £135million fee the club paid for him after being plagued by recurring soft tissue injuries over the last five years.
Life in Spain didn’t get off to a smooth start for the winger after he was ruled out of 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 rough spell at Barcelona
Hamstring injuries have plagued the winger’s time at Barcelona since he joined back in 2017
That would develop into a recurring problem, with the French international going on to reportedly missed approximately 102 games for Barcelona since his arrival, despite making 158 appearances and scoring 34 goals for the club.
Dembele has since turned his form around under the guidance of new boss Xavi and has scored twice and laid on four assists in seven starts under the Spaniard this term. Last season under both Ronald Koeman and Xavi, he managed 13 assists in LaLiga.
But speaking to RMC Sport, Dembele reflected on his tough times and how he ‘wasted’ a large chunk of his career at the Nou Camp.
‘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 people imagined. From 2017 to 2021 I have wasted my time enormously. I’ve wasted five years of my life.
‘I had to work to be able to play and perform. I wanted to be healthy, to be healthy to be able to play and then to be able to perform better little by little.
Dembele has put his issues with fitness and form behind him and is excelling under Xavi (R)
Dembele underwent surgery in 2020 on his hamstring and missed almost the entirety of that season, admitting the club had told him he needed to get stronger in order to prevent him from hurting himself in the future.
‘I had a lot of hamstring injuries. If you don’t work, you’ll stagnate. You’re going to hurt yourself, if you don’t get stronger, they told me. With Koeman and Xavi, it got better. Since then, I haven’t had any injuries. Fingers crossed, We keep working.
‘I’m fine, I feel good at Barcelona, I have the trust of the whole team, the whole club and I’m happy. Now everyone talks about football, it’s better’.
Rumours of his departure have dominated headlines in the past few years and that almost materialised back in January when talks over a contract renewal with the Blaugrana came to a stalemate and Dembele was nearly forced out by the cash-strapped club.
While previously insisting he never wanted to leave Barcelona, Dembele claimed that it was Xavi who played a part in getting him to stay and perform at the Camp Nou and was now content at the club.
‘With Koeman and Xavi, it got better. 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
‘Fingers crossed, We keep working. I’m fine, I feel good at Barcelona, I have the trust of the whole team, the whole club and I’m happy. Now everyone talks about football, it’s better.
‘With Xavi’s confidence, I was forced to stay. I really want Barça to win the Champions League again. It’s been seven years since the club won it.’
He signed a new two-year contract back in July accepting a 40 per cent pay cut as Barcelona attempt to navigate their financial difficulties, while Dembele will receive a 50 per cent cut of his transfer fee if a club pays over £43m for him.