Ousmane Dembele was just 20 years old when he landed at Barcelona from Borussia Dortmund.
He had played 96 percent of Dortmund‘s games without any injury problems and he had played 97 percent at Stade Rennais. But his move to Barcelona started a cycle of injuries, and it was one that even threatened to hang permanently over his career.
The first setbacks
On September 16, 2017, while trying to pass a ball backwards, Dembele‘s heel hit the ground, damaging a tendon in his left leg. That injury would see him sidelined for 109 days and he barely recovered from there on.
On January 14, 2018, he had more problems that ruled him out for 27 days. Then, he was already deep into the cycle of injuries, setbacks and loneliness.
Injuries cause confusion
Dembele didn’t really know what was happening. Suddenly, out of nowhere, his career had collapsed and he was at home alone, feeling dejected and rather bewildered.
He arrived in Spain with ambition, keen to conquer the world with Barcelona, but he spun into a series of injuries that he was unable to escape. The elasticity of his legs had been lost and that stopped him from being the player that earned him his move.
In his four seasons at Barcelona, he has accumulated 11 injuries, 10 of those being muscular, and has been out for a total of 569 days.
Why were his muscles failing him so often?
Often tendon maturation at early ages isn’t enough to withstand the traction brought on them. A succession of injuries then reduces the confidence a player has in their own body and a loss of confidence only leads to more injuries.
A spectacular job
Dembele has been taught how to eat correctly. He has someone looking after his diet now and he has had to learn to respect schedules and get things in order.
He was also given specific exercises to carry out, with a different focus from his teammates.
Now, Dembele is finding consistency and form at Barcelona and the Camp Nou is starting to become home.