Ousmane Dembele left Barcelona squad ‘stunned’ with request before clarifying speech

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Ousmane Dembele left his Barcelona team-mates stunned by announcing that he had requested the captain’s armband after renewing his contract at the Camp Nou. The group then erupted into fits of laughter, however, when the Frenchman clarified that it was a joke after a turbulent transfer saga that almost saw him jump ship. 

Dembele and Barca had been locked into contract negotiations for what seemed like an eternity. Still bound by poor financial health, the Catalan side and Dembele’s camp had conflicting interests in terms of the winger’s wages. 

An agreement was finally reached last week, calling time on a lengthy debacle that saw Dembele heavily linked with Chelsea, where he could have reunited with former boss Thomas Tuchel. The 25-year-old will be part of an exciting period under Xavi, with a raft of high-profile signings bedding in at the Camp Nou this summer. 

The relationship with his team-mates is seemingly as strong as ever, even if Mundo Deportivo claim that he left them astounded by jokingly revealing that he had asked for the captaincy as a sign of his commitment. 

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Barca have a rock solid core group of experienced captains including Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. Dembele then delighted the dressing room by revealing that it was a joke all along, with the prank supposedly fitting the kind of unpredictable character he has come to be known as in Spain. 

There is still a sense of excitement around what Dembele can become with La Blaugrana, despite gearing up for his sixth season at the club. The flying Frenchman’s career has regularly been disrupted by injury, but he showed what he can do in just 21 La Liga matches last season. 

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Amid an up-and-down relationship with Xavi due to the contract drama that was unfolding behind the scenes, Dembele registered 13 assists. That put him top of the charts for the entire division, despite having featured in just over half of the available matches. 

The former Borussia Dortmund star will have to fight it out for minutes this season, with two high-profile attacking deals for Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski already complete. The former was a livewire on the right wing for Leeds United last campaign and could be in direct competition with Dembele, while the latter has scored at a rate of more than one goal per game at Bayern Munich for the last three seasons running. 

“Finally I am here and I am very happy to join Barcelona,” said the Polish striker. “The last few days were very long days but in the end the deal was done so now I am going to focus on a new chapter in my life and a new challenge.

“But I am still the guy who wants to win, not only the game but also the titles so I hope from the beginning of the season we will begin winning and go for the titles during the season and at the end of the season. I know that it’s time to get Barcelona back on track and I am here to help them get back to the top and to winning as many titles as possible.”

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