Barcelona boss Xavi has heaped praise on Ousmane Dembele, likening his dribbling ability to that of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) superstar Neymar.
Barcelona kicked off their 2022-23 Champions League campaign with an emphatic 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday night (September 7). Hat-trick hero Robert Lewandowski was the star of the show, while Franck Kessie and Ferran Torres also found the back of the net for the hosts at Camp Nou.
Dembele could not get on the scoresheet on Wednesday but pitched in with a couple of assists. After the match, Xavi lauded the Frenchman for helping his team, declaring that his one-on-one ability was comparable to that of former Barca superstar Neymar. He said (via RMC Sport):
“He [Dembele] is happy, having fun, it’s important for me, for the group, said the coach after the meeting. He makes the difference, he passes, he scores, he stabs and he’s in a good moment.
“I don’t want to throw flowers at him but the one-on-one ability he has is at the level of the best Neymar. He has to dare more to shoot on goal and score. He’s a good boy and he has to take advantage of those characteristics. He’s there making a difference and he’s doing it.”
Dembele, who was once close to leaving Barcelona as a free agent, has become an integral part of the team under Xavi. He has thus far played 36 games under Xavi across competitions, scoring three goals and claiming 17 assists.
The French winger’s current contract expires in June 2024.
Xavi played a key role in Ousmane Dembele’s Barcelona renewal
Ousmane Dembele’s contract extension has been a blessing for the Blaugrana. With him on the pitch, they never seem to run out of creativity, with the France international regularly finding ways to make the opposition suffer.
In a recent interview, Dembele looked back at his decision to extend his stay with Barca, revealing that Xavi played a key role in convincing him to continue. Dembele had said:
“Without a doubt, Xavi was the key to continue. Also the president [Joan Laporta], I speak a lot with both of them. I’m fine. Everyone is happy now.”
Since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, Dembele has played 155 games for Barcelona across competitions, recording 33 goals and 38 assists.