Ousmane Dembele 'Totally Committed' to Barcelona Amid Arsenal Links

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 8, 2018

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 2: Ousmane Dembele of FC Barcelona  during the La Liga Santander  match between FC Barcelona v Villarreal at the Camp Nou on December 2, 2018 in Barcelona Spain (Photo by Soccrates/Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Ousmane Dembele is "totally committed" to Barcelona, according to right-back Nelson Semedo. The Blaugrana defender has talked up Dembele's improvement amid links between the forward and Premier League side Arsenal.

Semedo told ESPN (h/t Mundo Deportivo, via Football.London's Rob Guest): "He is an excellent player, with a lot of potential and will help us a lot. He is totally committed to the team. Now he is more responsible and is showing it in the field. It must continue like this, and I am convinced that it will."

Dembele's future at the Camp Nou has been an ongoing question mark since he joined the club in 2017. Injuries and inconsistency have blighted his development since, raising questions about the £135.5 million Barca paid to bring the Frenchman over from Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund.

Former Rennes attacker Dembele had been a star at Dortmund after scout Sven Mislintat identified and helped acquire him from Ligue 1 back in 2016. Mislintat now works as head of recruitment for the Gunners, and he recently lauded Dembele's ability.

Semedo believes Dembele is maturing at Barca.
Semedo believes Dembele is maturing at Barca.Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Speaking to German source Zeit (h/t Goal's Chris Burton), Mislintat recounted how he "felt this is a really special player" when he first saw Dembele in action.

He also said Dembele's "ability to develop strategies to exploit every gap was worth gold on the field."

Those words could add more weight to rumours Dembele will eventually move to north London, with links between him and Arsenal dating back to the summer.

There were some conflicting reports last month after Barca general manager Pep Segura played down rumours linking Dembele with Arsenal and domestic rivals Liverpool when speaking to Cadena Ser (h/t Ben Hayward of the London Evening Standard). However, there was also a subsequent report from Sport's Didac Peyret about how the player's future is being discussed by the leaders of La Liga.

Arsenal recruitment chief Mislintat helped bring Dembele to Dortmund and remains an admirer of the player.
Arsenal recruitment chief Mislintat helped bring Dembele to Dortmund and remains an admirer of the player.TF-Images/Getty Images

While there are concerns about Dembele's temperament, particularly away from the pitch, his talent on it means Barca shouldn't give up on him just yet.

The 21-year-old is a dynamic forward who can influence matches with his pace, trickery and eye for a pass. Those qualities remain invaluable to Barcelona, despite the club's ample talent in attacking areas.

Dembele plays a key supporting role alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. He is also useful when either of the gifted and experienced pair are injured.

Both Suarez and Messi have been absent at times this season, affording Dembele the chance to flourish. He's generally seized those chances, scoring seven goals and providing three assists in all competitions.

Few forwards can match his ability to create and score goals with either foot:

While he can still be inconsistent, some have called for patience with a player this young and gifted:

There's no doubt Dembele would be a major asset at Arsenal, where he would link up well with former Dortmund team-mate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The two forged a prolific partnership in the German top flight.

Yet it wouldn't make much sense for a Barca side that's already sold a useful attacker, 25-year-old striker Paco Alcacer, to give up so soon on a player of Dembele's obvious potential.  

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