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Dembélé defends himself against Barcelona controversies

In a conversation with AS, a source close to Dembélé has given the player's side of the negative stories that have dogged him since his arrival at Barcelona.

Dembélé defends himself against Barcelona controversies
Eric Alonso / AFP7 / Europapress Eric Alonso / AFP7 / Europapress

Young French striker, Ousmane Dembélé, has often hit the headlines for all of the wrong reasons since joining Barcelona in the summer of 2017. His repeated acts of indiscipline, apparent erratic home life, his recurrent injuries, and inconsistent performance have made him a constant subject of criticism and the media spotlight.

In Dembélé's defence, a source close to the player has spoken with AS to give insight into the player’s version of events. The source also spoke of the links with PSG, his relationship with Valverde, and the new situation at Barcelona with the arrival of Antoine Griezmann. Here's what they had to say...

"Video games and pizza not an obsession"

Home life: Ousmane lives with his mother and with his best friend Moustapha Diatta, a former footballer whom he met at Borussia Dortmund. There are no more friends who live with him, although sometimes he is occasionally visited by former classmates. It is true that he likes video games… but it is not an obsession nor does he spend the whole night playing as has been published.

He is very religious and does not drink alcohol because Islam forbids it. On the subject of meals he tries to practice halal… although he loves pizzas and cannot help himself to order some during the week.

Injuries: Ousmane is the first to hate the fact that he misses games due to so many injuries because in Dortmund he barely had any. He acknowledges that in the first season he made a mistake when trying too hard to recover the ball. In the rest of the injuries, he ensures that they are the product of bad luck, especially the latest one. Now he is recovering to be back in the squad for Granada or, at the latest, Villarreal.

Dembélé disappointed by teammate's comments on missed training incident

Acts of indiscipline: He admits that he has made some mistakes, but for a long time now, no one in the locker room has had anything to criticise him about. He was surprised by the reaction of his teammates when it was leaked that he had missed training as he expected unconditional support and instead found they had criticised him publically. In any case, the club did not fine him, a sign that it was considered a minor offense.

Regarding the latest controversy of whether he skipped a medical check-up: Ousmane says he noticed a cramp, but didn't think it was anything else and that's why he didn't give it much importance. But he acknowledges that he was wrong.

Griezmann arrival "a blessing" for Dembélé

PSG links: It is true that Thomas Tuchel (the coach that he worked with at Dortmund) called him to ask about his desire to come to the French club. But he made it very clear that he considered that he had not yet achieved any of the objectives that he had come to Barcelona for and was not willing to give up so easily. In fact, for him to go to PSG while at Barça would be a step back in his career.

Griezmann: His arrival has been a blessing for Ousmane, as he considers him one of his best friends on the national team. The French contingent in the squad has been very important to the adaptation of a player, who if he has any sins, it is his shyness.

Relationship with Valverde: The player has a strictly professional relationship with the coach. Sometimes he would like to feel closer to him, but in a team of so many players it is difficult to have a relationship to that degree. He misses Tuchel in this regard because he was much closer to the players.

Press stories: Ousmane is very disappointed because, as he directly assures, many of the stories published about him are "bullshit" – like that story that was published about him paying a friend 15,000 euros to spend the day with him eating fast food. This kind of fake news upsets him because the only thing it does is arbitrarily and unfairly damage his image.