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Barcelona winger and reported Arsenal target Ousmane Dembele ruled out a departure from the club this summer after speaking with fans via Twitch.
Dembele appeared live on the Twitch stream of FM_Guru88, a Football Manager streamer, and was asked by fans whether he would be leaving the Camp Nou following the arrival of Malcom from Bordeaux, per Marca.
The Frenchman was unequivocal in his response, however, and replied: “I’m staying at Barcelona and I’m ready to play the Spanish Super Cup.”
It’s only been a year since the Blaugrana splurged £97 million (plus add-ons) to sign the wing wizard from Borussia Dortmund, and writer Andrew Gaffney never bought into rumours he could leave so soon:
Andrew Gaffney @GaffneyVLC
@2FMikail @JaiP72 @Andy_1882_ @pokeefe1 @dacl1177 He was never going to leave. Barça expect great things from him this season and spent €150m on the guy 12 months ago.
Dembele was revered as one of the brightest youngsters in football upon arriving at the Camp Nou, but he was restricted to only 23 appearances in his maiden Barcelona campaign due to a hamstring injury.
It was far from the whirlwind first season in Spain that his new employers were hoping for, but Dembele has the time and quality necessary to make a success out of his stay out of the club yet, said commentator Kevin Hatchard:
Kevin Hatchard 🎙⚽️ @kevinhatchard
Never say never in football, but I find it incomprehensible that Barca would sell Dembele after just one season. If the kid can sort his head out, he could be a genuine superstar. So talented. Feels like it’d be a huge error to let him leave so soon, so not totally convinced.
Mundo Deportivo (h/t Mirror’s Martin Domin) reported Manchester United were ready to compete for the 21-year-old’s signature alongside fellow Premier League admirers Arsenal.
In spite of their major expenditure to recruit the player from Germany last summer, Barca seeded some doubt in Dembele’s place when they out-manoeuvred AS Roma to the signing of Malcom from Bordeaux in July.
Sport (h/t Mirror‘s Jake Polden) reported at the time that Dembele had let Barca know he was displeased about them signing direct competition for the right flank, leading to intensified speculation over an exit.
Manager Ernesto Valverde hasn’t had optimal chances to squeeze the best out of his player so far in Catalonia, but the Barca boss recently indicated he was rooting for his prospect, per The Spanish Football Podcast:
The Spanish Football Podcast @tsf_podcast
Valverde on Dembele: "We hope this is his season. He can give us a lot, he's an extraordinary player. Even with the injury last season he gave us a lot. Should he be worried about Malcom? The important thing is that there is competition for places."
There’s an outside chance Malcom also wasn’t brought in as direct competition for the right side, said sportswriter Andy West:
Andy West @andywest01
Barça's apparent lack of interest in recruiting a striker and the signing of Malcom makes me think Valverde is planning to use Dembele through the middle more often this season. Could be wrong but get that feeling.
Arsenal won’t feature in the UEFA Champions League this season and always seemed like an outsider in the hunt for Dembele, while recent chaos at Old Trafford means United isn’t the attractive destination it once was.
All it took for Dembele to end speculation was one sentence after hitching on the back of a Twitch stream, and all of a sudden the expectations for his season—both at Barcelona and elsewhere—are completely altered.
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