“He is the best one on one player”: Barcelona manager makes bold claim ahead of Ousmane Dembele return

Barcelona manager Xavi was thrilled to welcome Ousmane Dembele back, calling him “the best one-on-one player” in the world.

The French winger has had yet another injury setback this season, with his stint at Camp Nou regularly being marred by form and fitness difficulties. His most recent absence spanned three months. The 25-year-old has not been playing since January 28 after sustaining an injury in a 1-0 victory against Girona. In the absence of the Frenchman, Brazilian winger Raphinha has started on the right side on a regular basis.

But the Frenchman has now returned to Barcelona’s squad and played against Real Betis. 

What did Xavi say about Dembele?

Manager Xavi expected the skillful winger to have an immediate impact on the team. The Spaniard recently remarked on Dembele’s potential and why he is so vital to the Catalan team. Ahead of the Real Betis game, the manager spoke in the pre game conference. His exact words according to Mundo Deportivo were,

“We have missed him. He is the best one-on-one player, there are few in the world like him. Ask the full-backs in La Liga who they prefer. He’s a player with tremendous speed, he’s a difference-maker. It’s logical that we’ve missed him.”

He also talked about his persistent injury issues, “The sensations were not good and the injury was in a striking area that was more difficult to heal. He is fine and happy. We’ll see if we start him or use him as a substitute, but it’s very important news for us.”

Dembele played the last 17 minutes as Real Betis were trashed 4-0 by his team. He showed glimpses of his ability but still has more to do to regain his fitness and form. 

Dembele’s time at Barcelona 

Dembele’s close control and speed make him a threat in one-on-one scenarios. He’s also an excellent finisher and playmaker on Barcelona’s right wing.

When he’s been fit and available, the former Borussia Dortmund player has been a starter in Xavi’s starting XI. Since the Spaniard took over as manager of Barcelona in November 2021, he has ten goals and 20 assists in 59 appearances in all competitions.

Barcelona manager Xavi says increased confidence has led to improved Dembele performances

Dembele joined Barcelona in the summer of 2018 for a fee of €105 million from Dortmund. But he did not live up to expectations in the initial years, regularly being injured or having bad patches of form. But under Xavi, Dembele has become better and more focused. He is now one of the leaders in the team and one of their best players. He has also regularly featured in the French national team alongside Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, even starting in the recent 2022 World Cup final.

Barcelona currently leads second-placed Clasico rivals Real Madrid by 11 points at the top of the La Liga table. They are now just a few victories away from winning a domestic title. They could be league champions again for the first time since 2018-19. Barcelona will continue their title charge when they face Osasuna on Tuesday.

Fazal Al Bashar

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Fazal is a passionate soccer aficionado, who when not discovering the latest soccer stories and rumors, indulges in playing FIFA all night. While he sucks at the sport, he knows the who and what in all things soccer-related.


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