A player reportedly on the radar of Liverpool and Arsenal has made Lionel Messi’s list of the 15 top youngsters in world football.
Ousmane Dembele joined Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for a €105million (£97million) fee plus add-ons, and arrived at Camp Nou to much fanfare.
The 22-year-old has made 74 competitive appearances for Barca, registering 19 goals and 17 assists.
However, Dembele’s time at Camp Nou has been hampered by injuries, with 2019-20 seeing him make just nine appearances in all competitions.
According to Spanish outlet Sport, Barca are ready to part ways with the France international, who in turn reportedly wants a move to the Premier League.
The report claims that both Liverpool and Arsenal have expressed their interest, but with Barcelona intent on recouping a large part of his transfer fee, he won’t come cheap.
Despite Dembele’s injury issues, there is no doubting his quality, which now has the Messi seal of approval, his teammate selecting him in his 15 “youth on the rise” players for Topps Champions League cards.
“His pace is frightening in training”, read the Dembele card, as quoted by Give Me Sport.
It’s not the first time Messi has praised his young teammate.
“On the pitch he’s a phenomenon. It’s up to him where he ends up, he could be one of the best,” Messi is quoted by Sport as saying in December 2018. “He’s young and he is adapting.”
It’s a tricky choice for Liverpool and Arsenal.
On one hand, Dembele is a young player whose talent and credentials all point to a superstar in the making, a versatile attacker who has received plaudits by the truckload.
On the other, his injury record is somewhat concerning, and 74 competitive appearances in just under three years, no matter the reason, seems a risk considering how much he could go for.
Dembele would no doubt be a worthy addition to either Liverpool or Arsenal, but both clubs must do their due diligence in terms of his fitness record – and how much game time they can get out of him – going forward.