Barcelona are bracing themselves for a major departure with Ousmane Dembele set to move to PSG. The Frenchman has experienced a lengthy but mixed spell at Camp Nou. On his day, the winger is a high quality performer and Xavi will now need to consider who could replace Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona.
While capable of operating on both flanks, Dembele’s primary position at Barcelona has been as a right winger or right sided forward. His ability to run with the ball and create chances has been an asset in La Liga and there have been a few spectacular goals too with Dembele cutting onto his favoured left foot and firing shots in.
However, injury problems and early accusations about poor lifestyle choices have to some extent blighted his time in Catalunya, before another falling out regarding his reluctance to sign a new deal during the 2021/22 season. Xavi was instrumental in convincing Dembele to stay beyond the summer of 2022 which is why this news will come as a real blow to the Barcelona boss.
Who could replace Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona? – Three Options
During Barcelona’s 2022/23 La Liga triumph, Raphinha and Ousmane Dembele were frequently picked in the same team despite both players favouring a role on the right flank. Dembele’s injury problems meant it wasn’t an all too frequent occurrence, with the Frenchman typically the one to move across to the left side when both players were available and selected.
The imminent departure of Dembele should at least ease that particular dilemma for Xavi. Raphinha, although not always totally convincing, now appears clear as the first choice right winger for the Catalan giants.
His first season in the Spanish top flight yielded 7 goals and 7 assists from 36 league appearances, 11 of which did come from the substitute’s bench. That was an identical number of goal contributions as the Brazilian managed during his final season in the Premier League in a struggling Leeds United side.
The most likely scenario given Barcelona’s financial woes is that the club doesn't sign an outright Ousmane Dembele replacement and instead place more faith in Raphinha this season. He’s likely to operate on the right while Gavi should be the preferred choice on the left flank with the young Spain international possessing the legs to drop into midfield at times too in a high energy hybrid role.
An alternative option for Xavi would be to utilise Ferran Torres as the right winger. Dembele’s departure is likely to end any possibility of the 23 year old leaving with the Spain international having been a reported target for Aston Villa earlier in this transfer window.
Torres hasn’t really lived up to the €55m price tag that saw him move from Manchester City in January 2022. He has struggled to get regular first team football at Camp Nou since the arrival of the likes of Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski last summer. Torres only made 14 starts in LaLiga 2022/23 but still featured in all but 5 of Barca’s league outings with a relatively modest return of 4 goals and 2 assists meaning he’ll need to show more if he wants to break into the eleven on a regular basis this term.
A New Signing
Barcelona’s financial situation all but rules out the chances of them pulling off a real blockbuster transfer to replace Ousmane Dembele. With the new season only a week away, they are still having problems registering new signings and players who have renewed their contracts this summer.
The Dembele funds will first go towards making sure the likes of Ilkay Gundogan can be registered. Only after that process has been completed and preferably other funds raised through alternative means, could Barca seriously consider dipping into the transfer market.
A number of names have been mentioned with Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix recently making the risky move of publicly expressing his desire to play for Barcelona. Leroy Sane has also been touted as a possible addition, however neither player would come cheap.
A more realistic scenario could potentially see Barcelona look to bring in Joao Cancelo to play in what has been a problematic right back position. Cancelo would offer natural width and creativity from deeper and his attacking nature would help the side continue to carry a threat on the right flank despite Dembele’s departure.