Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has been talking about his future and has only revealed his new nickname at the Camp Nou after featuring in a slightly different role under Ronald Koeman at the club this season.
The France international told BeIN Sports France that he has been named after a legendary former Barcelona striker. Dembele explained, “As I play 9 now, they call me Samuel Eto’o in the locker room.”
Koeman has used Dembele as a striker this season in attack with Lionel Messi after switching to a 3-5-2 formation. The 23-year-old was selected ahead of compatriot Antoine Griezmann in attack for Saturday’s crucial Clasico against Real Madrid.
Dembele is in the midst of his best season for Barcelona since he joined from Borussia Dortmund in 2017. The forward has managed to put his injury problems behind him and has become a regular, scoring 10 times in all competitions.
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Dembele Happy at Barcelona
The forward also spoke about his future at the club amid uncertainty over whether he will remain at the Camp Nou next season. Dembele is out of contract in 2022 and the club reportedly need to decide whether to hand him a new deal in the summer or look to sell.
Dembele admitted he is yet to open negotiations about his future but does seem to be a fan of new president Joan Laporta. He said, “No discussion yet but I’m happy in Barcelona. There is a new president who likes to be close to the players, who has made history.”
The Frenchman came close to leaving on loan for Manchester United last season but much has changed since then. Dembele has managed to return to form and fitness, and it would be no surprise if Barca tried hard to keep him at the club.
Praise For Messi
Captain Lionel Messi is another player whose future at Barcelona is uncertain ahead of the summer transfer window. The Argentine is out of contract at the end of the season and could walk away for free if he does not extend his deal.
President Laporta has already told Messi he will do “whatever it takes to keep” the captain at the club when he was unveiled as Josep Maria Bartomeu’s successor at the Camp Nou in March, as reported by Goal.
Dembele and Messi have formed a good partnership in attack this season, and the forward has explained how the captain helps him on the pitch. He added, “Messi gives confidence to young people, he helps us a lot, he gives me advice.”
Barca look set for a busy summer in the transfer market with the club needing to sell players before they can bring in any new signings. Yet the club also has important decisions to make regarding the futures players such as Dembele and Messi.
Coach Koeman has said he hopes Dembele does decide to stay before he’s become an important player this season. Meanwhile, Helena Condis at Cadena COPE have reported that Dembele’s contract renewal is “a priority” for Barcelona.