Xavi Hernandez, former Barcelona great knows very well what it takes to be a Barcelona player. He has spent 24 years with his beloved club and no one has played more official games for Barcelona than him. Commenting on Ousmane Dembele future at Barcelona he said, “Dembele must pass the final exam to justify his €105m transfer fee.”
Dembele arrived at Barcelona last summer. The French star has great potential to unlock but his injury-laden debut season hasn’t helped him much to adapt to Barcelona environment. However, he has blossomed in his recent appearances in the League and Uefa Champions League last 16 draws against Chelsea. He scored his maiden goal for Barcelona against Chelsea, but Xavi thinks he still has plenty of questions to answers.
Xavi told So Foot as Goal reports, “He will need some time. Barca is like a final exam for a footballer. It is like Dembele is passing a Master’s degree right now because not everyone can play for this club.
Why? Because you have to know things three times more than elsewhere. Barca plays on barely 30 meters of the pitch. Dembele had a lot of talent, he is very fast, but here he is not going to have the space he had at Dortmund or Rennes. He had more space, so more time there.”
Xavi added on Dembele’s improvement to develop in Barca mold, “He will have to learn to think faster, in a few thousandths of the seconds. This is where we will see if he has the mentality.
“He must say to himself, “I’m a Barca player”. You have to be mentally strong to have conviction.
There are average players who spent 15 years at Barca because they had character. And there are some excellent players who didn’t do anything because they couldn’t handle the pressure.”
“In training, when you saw them, you would say to yourself: “They’ll break everything. They are going to be legends, but no. As soon as they entered the pitch, their legs started shaking, they didn’t want the ball anymore. And you would wonder, “Holly, f***, what’s happening to them?”
The midfield maestro adds, “Mental strength is what stabilizes the performance. That’s what makes you stronger.” Dembele can look up to rival Real Madrid’s players as well if want some inspirations.
“When there is fire, Marcelo, [Luka] Modric or Sergio Ramos do not hide. On the contrary, it’s at this moment they appear. What did Lucas Vazquez do against PSG? He entered the pitch with the desire to win. A missile. The guy even went to [Presnel] Kimpembe, and there you say to yourself: ‘What is he doing? He is crazy or what? No, he is just mentally strong.”
Xavi currently plays and mentor Al Sadd players in Qatar at the age of 38, but he hasn’t been able to keep himself away from football in Spain. We hope Dembele pass his final test and completes his Master degree staying longer at Barcelona and proves Xavi right.