Player linked with £13m-a-year Newcastle move has played 25 minutes all season
The latest in a series of injury blows suffered by the luckless Ousmane Dembele brought to mind Michael Corleone’s iconic line from The Godfather Part III; ‘Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!”
For Dembele, however, it those unending fitness problems – rather than the shadowy Mafia underworld – that has the Barcelona winger locked in a vice-like grip.
Four years since moving to the Camp Nou in what was a club record £96 million deal, the World Cup-winning France international has missed almost 100 games due to a variety of knocks, tears and ruptures.
Barcelona’s luckless number seven made his first appearance of the season at long last during the 1-0 victory over Dinamo Kiev in midweek. But it seems that his return to the first-team picture was a fleeting one.
“The first team player Ousmane Dembele has a strain in the semimembranosus muscle of his left hamstring,” read a statement on Barca’s official website, the former Dortmund wonderkid set for another spell on the treatment table after just 25 minutes of action in Ukraine.
“He is unavailable for selection and his recovery will dictate his return.”
Will Newcastle get cold feet over Ousmane Dembele?
FootMercato reported a fortnight ago that Newcastle United, a club whose financial muscle far outweighs that of Barcelona these days, were in talks over a deal that would see Dembele swap Catalonia for the banks of the Tyne.
They have allegedly offered the 24-year-old a £245,000-a-week contract (almost £13 million a year) – one that would make him the best-paid player in their entire history.
Dembele is due to become a free agent at the end of this season.
But, with his piano-wire hamstrings going twang once again, Newcastle could be forgiven for wondering whether Dembele is a risk worth taking – an expensive risk at that.
In four-and-a-bit seasons as a Barcelona player, one of the most naturally gifted footballers on the continent is yet to start more than 20 La Liga games in a single campaign.
At this rate, he will be lucky to hit 10 this time around.