If you’d have said Ronald Koeman would be the coach to unlock the best version of Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona back in August, nobody would have believed you, yet that is exactly what has happened in the 2020/21 season.
Depending on which reports you believe, Dembele could have been very close to leaving Barcelona for Manchester United on the transfer deadline, as Koeman pushed for Memphis Depay’s arrival, yet since that moment the French international has become a key figure for the Dutch coach.
Of course, a long-term injury to Ansu Fati handed Dembele his chance, but for once at the Camp Nou, he has taken it and left behind all the talk of poor professionalism which had left him teetering on the club’s proverbial exit door.
Dembele has grown physically and mentally over the course of this season, and is now seen as the priority choice, even ahead of Antoine Griezmann, in Koeman‘s attack.
Over the course of the current campaign, where he has made 35 appearances in all competitions, Dembele has impressed enough to earn an international recall, allowing fans to dream of the Kylian Mbappe-Dembele axis, which ripped England to shreds in June 2017, being reunited at Euro 2020.
A muscular injury kept him out of action for four matches earlier in the season, but in previous years where that would have turned into a 6-12-week layoff with complications, Dembele returned quickly this time, not allowing his time on the pitch to be diminished.
Across all competitions, Dembele has scored nine goals and contributed four assists, and the reality is that he is getting better all the time.
“Honestly, in 2017 I was very weak, now I have changed physically and I feel better prepared for matches,” Dembele explained in an interview with Telefoot.
“Everything has changed. Now I feel good about myself, even though I have struggled with all these physical problems for three years.”