Former Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has expressed his dissatisfaction with his time at the Catalan club.

In addition to this, he has drawn comparisons with his experience at Paris Saint-Germain, where he now appears much more settled.

As he prepares for Euro 2024 with the French national team, Dembele‘s remarks highlight the differences in his playing roles and management styles under Xavi Hernandez and Luis Enrique.

Dembele, who only joined the Parisian club last summer, has had a mixed first season at his new club.

Despite scoring only six goals across all competitions, he believes his performance has improved under PSG’s manager, Luis Enrique.

This sentiment starkly contrasts his experience with his former coach, where he felt constrained by a more structured playing role.

“What has changed with Luis Enrique is that he has given me more freedom”, he reiterated.

“At Barcelona, I was more tied to the wing. With Luis Enrique, I can play everywhere: as a 10, on the wings, as a false 9… I have had more freedom in the second half of the season.

“The coach has told me to move a little everywhere, except when I have to maintain my position on the wing.”

Dembele credits PSG physios

These comments suggest that the Frenchman felt limited under Xavi and that this restriction impacted his performance. But this perceived lack of freedom contrasts with his experience at PSG. In Ligue 1, Luis Enrique‘s flexible approach has allowed him to explore different positions on the pitch.

Reflecting on his improved form and fitness, Dembele credits the PSG staff and Enrique’s management for his better physical condition and performance.

Ousmane Dembele has felt infinitely more comfortable with PSG
Ousmane Dembele has felt infinitely more comfortable with PSG

Ousmane Dembele has felt infinitely more comfortable with PSG

“I hope it will continue like this. [What’s helping me is] the preparation with the PSG staff: the physical trainers, the physios… Luis Enrique has also given me rest in some games. Some I haven’t played, others I have been on the bench… That has helped me stay in shape all season.”

Dembele’s comments seem to be a subtle dig at how Xavi managex him, implying that the rigid structure at Barcelona hindered his potential.

The 27-year-old joined the Blaugrana in 2017 for a staggering $107 million. However, he struggled to make a significant impact, scoring only three times in 17 La Liga appearances during his first season. His move back to France, valued at just over $53 million, was a chance for a fresh start.

Dembele’s time to shine at PSG?

Despite his reduced goal tally at PSG, Dembele has shown glimpses of his world-class talent. He contributed 20 goal involvements in all competitions for the 2023-24 season. His flexibility and dynamic playing style under Enrique could become crucial for PSG, especially with the departure of star player Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid.

Looking ahead to Euro 2024, Dembele’s form and fitness will be under scrutiny as he aims to make a significant impact for the French national team. His improved conditioning and the strategic rest periods implemented by Enrique have put him in better shape than in previous seasons.

Photo credits: IMAGO / NurPhoto : IMAGO / NurPhoto