Ousmane Dembele’s contract expires at the end of the season, and judging by the latest reports, and judging by the latest reports he’s unlikely to sign an extension.
Dembele has been an important player for Xavi who said that a player with Ousmane’s skillset is perfect for his tactics. So, looking for a replacement, Barca will need a certain profile: creative, speedy, good dribbler, likes to stay wide.
Here’s a list of players we think could tick these boxes.
Why it would make sense: Ferran Torres is a versatile forward that can play in all positions in attack, but let’s not forget that he started as a right winger at Valencia.
The 21-year-old has played under Pep Guardiola and Luis Enrique, two coaches that play the Barcelona way. So, it shouldn’t be difficult for him to adapt to Xavi’s needs.
When deployed on the flank, Ferran plays like a true winger. In his last season at Valencia, Torres recorded an average of 1.6 dribbles per game. At Manchester City, where he played more centrally, that figure was cut in half.
Besides, the Spaniard has one little advantage: he’s more of a goalscorer than anyone else on the list.
Why it would make sense: Before contracting Covid-19, Abde Ezzalzouli had started in five consecutive league games, so Xavi clearly appreciates his skills
The 20-year-old is terrific in one-on-one situations, recording 3.9 dribbles per game on average. As his heatmap shows, Abde likes staying close to the touchline. This allows him to take advantage of his speed.
Being the youngest among our picks, Ezzalzouli still lacks in some departments: his shooting, for example, is not the best. However, it’s clear that he has a very high ceiling, and Xavi can definitely turn him into a regular starter.
Why it would make sense: Adama Traore finished the 2020/21 season as the third-best dribbler in Europe, only behind Leo Messi and Neymar. The 25-year-old is great at carrying the ball forward, and by beating the rival defenders, he constantly puts his team at an advantage.
Adama generates scoring chances too, attempting 2 crosses per game, with 25% of them successful. Besides, he records 1.1 key passes per match, which is a decent figure for a winger, especially one playing for a defensive-minded Wolves.
And to say the obvious, Traore is a La Masia graduate, he knows the club and the style of play. He should be able to adapt to Camp Nou in no time.
Previous rumours: Barca reportedly are working on Adama’s transfer in case Dembele ends up leaving. The player is open to a return. With a contract expiring in 2023, the 25-year-old could be available at cut-price.
Why it would make sense: Kingsley Coman is perhaps one of the players that resemble Dembele the most. No wonder that Bayern Munich want Ousmane as a replacement for the 25-year-old.
It’s true that Coman also has a problem with injuries. He stays fit more often than Barca’s winger though.
Coman’s injuries during the last 3 seasons (including Covid-19)
Dembele’s injuries during the last 3 seasons (including Covid-19)
In the last two and a half years, Bayern’s winger picked up 15 different injuries. As a result, he missed 28 games in total. Dembele suffered 9 different injuries during the same period. His were more serious, though, and the 24-year-old missed a total of 62 games.
As for his profile, Kingsley likes to play wide on the right flank, take the ball, dribble past the opponents and send a cross into the box. The 25-year-old averages 1.9 dribbles per game and 0.7 key passes.
The Frenchman’s contract at Bayern expires in 2023, and they could be ready to sell him at a price below his market value.
Previous rumours: Barca reportedly wanted to sign Coman on loan back in November but the Bavarians refused. However, it’s claimed that Bayern would be open to a permanent transfer.