Barcelona Transfer News: Ousmane Dembele Staying Amid Arsenal Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJuly 28, 2018

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MAY 20: Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona in action during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Real Sociedad at Camp Nou on May 20, 2018 in Barcelona, . (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

Ousmane Dembele won't be leaving Barcelona this summer, even after Malcom's arrival, according to manager Ernesto Valverede.

The Barca boss has made it clear Dembele, who moved to the Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, still has a future with La Liga's champions, per Sky Sports: "Let's hope it's his season. He is an extraordinary player. The past year has been complicated because of the injuries, but even so, he has brought us a lot."

Dembele has reportedly been a target for Arsenal, with Spanish journalist Kike Marin (h/t Jack Otway of the Daily Express) revealing Gunners head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has previously approached Barca about a potential deal.

Mislintat brought Dembele to the Bundesliga from Stade Rennais in 2016, but he is unlikely to have a quick reunion with the forward based on Valverde's words. The manager emphasised the importance of squad depth.

Valverde wants Dembele to stay.
Valverde wants Dembele to stay.AFP Contributor/Getty Images

There will be competition in the wide areas of Barca's forward line after the Blaugrana recently completed a deal worth £36.5 million for former Girondins de Bordeaux star Malcom. The Brazilian is a wing wizard who's versatile enough to both create and score goals.

Those things were Dembele's remit last season, but a spate of injuries laid the France international low and made for a frustrating debut campaign in Spain's top flight. Even so, the inconsistent attacker is gifted enough to merit another chance to prove himself alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.

Dembele possesses game-breaking pace, natural technique and excellent close control, as well as an eye for a pass.

Despite the injuries, he still managed to showcase those qualities during 2017/18:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Ousmane Dembélé has been directly involved in a goal once every 92.55 minutes for Barcelona across all competitions this season: 1018 minutes ⏱ 7 assists 🅰️ 4 goals ⚽️ #️⃣1️⃣1️⃣ https://t.co/Zia3Z5qW3m

Malcom's numbers in Ligue 1 were better, albeit aided by greater playing time:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Malcom vs Ousmane Dembele Who would you rather see start for Barcelona next season? Read @BenMcAleer1's article on the duo now -- https://t.co/uKqMJn6MHO https://t.co/UL5HfQzKRQ

There isn't much to choose between the two, so Valverde would be wise to keep both given Barca have lacked credible attacking depth in recent years. Putting Dembele and Malcom next to Paco Alcacer and Munir, with the latter set to be offered a new contract, per Marca, turns a weakness into a strength.

The fact the duo are 21 is another important factor since Suarez and Messi are both 31. Barca can't ignore the time to regenerate their attacking options is getting closer.

Dembele still has a lot to do to prove he can come close to matching either one of Suarez or Messi. Yet he is still a talent who can make the left flank his own at the Camp Nou.