‘Gaming addictions’, late for training – Dembele self-destructing at Barcelona

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Barcelona signed the 21-year-old to replace Neymar in a €147m deal but his lack of discipline and poor professionalism is putting his career at risk

There are many reasons thousands of footballers don’t make it to the game’s peak, despite possessing innate talent which could make them world stars.

Two of the biggest are bad luck and a bad mentality. Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele has suffered from both.

And as with the likes of Mario Balotelli, Antonio Cassano and Hatem Ben Arfa, the latter could take the World Cup winner crashing down off the mountain he has ascended.

 

The Frenchman’s first season at Camp Nou was beset by injury problems which prevented him getting the game time he wanted and finding his place in the team.

But now in his second season, which he started well, scoring some important goals, it seems only Dembele’s behaviour and attitude is holding him back.

Nobody says it’s easy, leaving your home and moving abroad as a teenager, but the transition appears to have hit Dembele harder than most.

After forcing a move from Borussia Dortmund to Barcelona in an unprofessional way – including an alleged trashing of the house he was renting from now Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp – the Catalans perhaps shouldn’t be surprised by Dembele’s behaviour.

Since he arrived in the summer of 2017 he has been late to training and other meetings or events on numerous occasions, showing a lack of respect for the club and his team-mates.

 

Meanwhile, on the pitch he is not up to speed with Barcelona’s game and while his considerable ability helps cover the gaps, it’s clear he’s still not totally on board with the club’s idiosyncratic style.

There have been other complaints about the amount of time he spends playing video-games, often at inopportune hours, while his professionalism regarding diet has been called into question on numerous occasions.

One source told Goal countless fast food cartons at his house, while a healthy fish dish prepared by a chef had been discarded.

Dembele does not yet speak Spanish at a good level and that is hampering his integration with his Barcelona team-mates.

All of which has been reported by both Catalan and Madrid media, and with Barcelona briefing journalists on Dembele’s troubles, it potentially paves the way for his exit.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Pep Segura met with the player’s agent to explain the situation, who reportedly asked the club to stop leaking information about his client.

With each new story that comes out about the winger’s troubles, it gets easier and easier for the Catalans to sell him.

Having lavished a fee which could rise to €147 million on his signature, Barcelona needs Dembele to perform, but if that is not going to happen then they must find an escape route.

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