‘MESSI IS NOT FROM THIS WORLD’ – DEMBELE LABELS BARCELONA TEAM-MATE AS BEST EVER
The 20-year-old is excited to link up with his new club-mates, having been inspired by them as a youngster
Ousmane Dembele has labelled his new Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi as “the greatest player in history”, claiming he is out of this world.
The 20-year-old completed his €105 million move from Borussia Dortmund on August 28, following weeks of speculation which marked him as Neymar’s replacement after the Brazil star’s record-breaking €222m switch to Paris Saint-Germain.
The France international took matters into his own hands by refusing to train with the German club in order to force through his “dream move”.
Now, having been confirmed as a Barca player, Dembele has shared his early memories of the Catalan club and named Andres Iniesta and Messi as inspirations.
“I remember two games especially,” Dembele told Sport. “One against Chelsea, when Iniesta scored the goal to qualify for the Champions League final. When I see Andres now I remember it. I can’t wait to tell him.
“And the other was a Champions League game against Arsenal. Barcelona had not done great in the first leg but in the second leg they produced a brilliant performance, with four goals from Messi.
“That’s when I realised Messi’s not from this world. It was incredible.
“I had a poster of Iniesta. He seemed like a different player to me: elegant, special… a genius. I watched all the Barcelona games to see how they played and the geniuses, Iniesta and Messi. After, I tried to imitate them but it was difficult.
“They do things that no one does. Messi always plays at a sublime level. He’s the best player in history!”
Dembele, widely labelled as one of the most exciting young talents in world football before his transfer to Dortmund, earned a five-year deal at the Bundesliga club in 2016 following an outstanding campaign in the Rennes first team.
Six goals and six assists in 32 German top-flight outings saw him linked with a move to Barca, before a deal was completed following confirmation of Neymar’s departure.
And though his former manager, Thomas Tuchel, had tipped him to go on to be named as the best player on the planet, Dembele has stressed his focus sits with establishing himself as a first-team player at Camp Nou.
“He [Tuchel] loved me too much,” he added. “Being serious, it’s not a challenge in my life. My objective is to learn from the best in the world, to integrate myself into the team. I am only 20. Personal titles aren’t something which motivate me.”
Asked whether comparisons between himself and Neymar, Dembele said: “No. Honestly I don’t think so.