BARCELONA

Barcelona blamed for Dembélé injuries

Barcelona have been cited as the real source of Ousmane Dembélé's injury woes in an in-depth report conducted by L'Equipe.

Barcelona blamed for Dembélé injuries

Ousmane Dembélé’s season was tragically brought to an end in February due to injury. Barcelona will not have the Frenchman back for six months while his aspirations to play in Euro 2020 have also vanished.

The 22-year-old winger has been in the constant spotlight at Barcelona due to his recurring injury issues, which many have blamed on his lifestyle. It was widely known that Dembélé ate too much junk food and stayed up late playing video games. But this season, he recognised the problems with his habits and made a conscious effort to mend his ways.

What is striking is that the fact that until he signed for Barcelona for 145 million euros in 2017, Dembélé had never suffered an injury. Now, an in-depth L'Equipe report has focused on his private life and the reasons that may have led to his current injury crisis.

Dembélé’s lifestyle changes

The French international currently lives in Barcelona with both his uncle and best friend, Moustapha Diatta. And following the issues with his lifestyle last season, his agent, London-based Moussa Sissoko, now often stays in Barcelona to keep an eye on him. Meanwhile, Anthony Audebaud, his full-time cook hired this season, has ensured that Dembélé has put aside junk food in place of a balanced and healthy diet.

“There are no longer any pre-cooked products or soft drinks, only fresh and healthy products, Ousmane is good at playing football and he thought that only that was enough, but he is growing and learning,” Audebaud told L’Equipe.

“Today, he eats sea bream, sea bass, chicken and many vegetables. It's hard to see all this work and bad luck with injuries because they have never taken care of him so much. He is a very home-oriented and quiet lad; there are never parties at home. I imposed meal times because he asked me to and now everything is written down. He is very professional.”

Aside from his diet and swapping Coca-Cola for fruit juices, he has also improved his sleeping patterns. Although, going to bed late is something all younger players do these days, according to a L’Equipe source.

“All the Generation ‘Z’ players go to bed late. They are not morning people. Twelve or one o'clock in the morning is early for them and it doesn’t only happen with Ousmane. If we say that about him, we can also cite Benjamin Mendy, Lucas Hernández, Kylian Mbappé.”

Barcelona blamed for Dembélé injuries

But despite the lifestyle changes, one gaping issue remains: he continues to pick up injuries at Barcelona after never having suffered an injury at either Rennes or Dortmund. This has led L’Equipe to highlight Barcelona’s training methods as the reasons for his injuries.

Data retrieved from Dembélé’s GPS monitor by the Aspetar Clinic in Doha, where the player has previously been treated, revealed something important. In training, only 20% of the time he is involved in plays was spent sprinting, while in matches that figure rose to a staggering 90%, which could suggest that the demands in games are beyond him.

In that sense, it is argued in the L’Equipe report that Dembélé's sprinter-type profile is not compatible with Barcelona’s training methods, meaning when the demand significantly increases on him to sprint in matches he is more prone to injuries.

Speaking to L’Equipe, Michel Troin, the current assistant to Philippe Montanier at Monaco, who previously worked with Dembélé at Rennes, explained that: “There are club cultures that do not match the needs of the players they recruit.” The report also cites the case of Frenkie de Jong, who, after moving from Ajax to Barcelona, had to hire a personal trainer during his first week to help him cope with the extra workload.

L’Equipe claim that a representative from Barcelona recognised that the club was responsible for Dembélé’s chain of injures but the Catalan outfit were not prepared to admit blame publically. The French newspaper reports that a Barça executive even contacted his counterpart in Dortmund to try to understand the reasons why Dembélé had no muscle problems while in Germany.

The report ends with more statements from Michel Torin, in which he blames Barcelona for his current injuries woes: “Ousmane is not responsible for his situation. He is the victim of a precocious talent. At Rennes we had huge pressure on training and matches, only we didn't kill him. 

“If you see the photos, his bone development had not finished; he still had growing to do. There was a rush to make him play because he is a phenomenon and now he is paying for it.”