16th April, 2019
As far as Barcelona’s President, Josep Maria Bartomeu is concerned, Ousmane Dembele is “much better” than former Barcelona star Neymar. Not many Barcelona fans will disagree with him on that. As a matter of fact, many of them have always opposed any discussion about the return of the Brazilian to Nou Camp.
Life of course is all about making choices and taking decisions. Neymar took his decision to leave Barcelona for whatever reasons but it is very clear now to all and sundry that he very likely took a wrong one as his footballing career has not gotten any better. As a matter of fact, it has somewhat nose-dived.
The Brazilian left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222 million transfer in 2017 with Dembele arriving as his €105m replacement from Borussia Dortmund. Good Business for Barcelona there. Monetarily and on the sporting side too.
Since arriving at Barca, Dembele has scored 11 La Liga goals and 18 in all competitions and Bartomeu heaped praise on the 21-year-old France winger.
“It’s not possible for Neymar to come to Barcelona as we have another sporting project with Dembele and [Philippe] Coutinho,” Bartomeu told TVE ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United.
“We are happy with what we have, as Dembele is better than Neymar and he is a good professional player.
“He is a young guy who arrived at a huge club and that’s not easy, but he has adapted and he is much better than Neymar.”
However, Philippe Coutinho has been linked with a move away having struggled to cement a spot in Barca’s starting line-up since his €160m switch from Liverpool In January 2018.
With interest being shown by both Manchester United and Chelsea in securing his services, Bartomeu has come out to say: “Coutinho is an excellent player and he has the coach’s confidence.
“He has contract with us and he will remain at the team, unless they meet his release clause.”
Also there have been some doubts over the futures of Ivan Rakitic and Samuel Umtiti at the club, with the pair reportedly attracting interest from the likes of Inter, Arsenal and United respectively.
When asked about this, Bartomeu said: “[Rakitic] has a contract and we are very happy [with him]. I had a conversation with him in the summer and I told him that we could talk to improve his contract.
“We have not talked because of the calendar and because it’s not easy due to the balance of wages, but we will talk with him. He’s an indisputable player and he becomes better every year.
“[As for Umtiti] we renewed him before the World Cup; he has four years left on his contract and there is no Umtiti issue. Now he has to recover from his injury as we want to have him in the best form possible. Having Umtiti and [Clement] Lenglet on the left [side of central defence] is a guarantee and I would like him to continue.”