Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has opened up on his improved form and fitness and has admitted he did not always have the healthiest lifestyle in his younger days at the club.
Dembele was plagued by injuries in his first few years at the Camp Nou following a move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 but has managed to shrug off his physical issues in the last two seasons and feature regularly.
The attacker is currently with the France squad at World Cup 2022 and has spoken about his improvements at a press conference, admitting that he hasn’t always had the healthiest habits, as reported by RMC Sport.
“I didn’t have a healthy lifestyle as you can imagine, it wasn’t a party, huh! But we’re a little older now, I’m 25…” he said. “There have been three difficult seasons with Barcelona. When you look at the first two games between 2018 and this year there is a lot of difference. I have matured.”
Dembele has already made an impact at the World Cup. He picked up an assist in Les Bleus’ opening match which ended in a 4-1 win over Australia in Qatar.
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Dembele Talks France Role
The Barcelona forward also spoke about his role with the France team. Injury to Karim Benzema has offered the winger a starting spot and he revealed what coach Didier Deschamps wants to see from him.
“The coach spoke to me about my defensive position. I felt very good yesterday. I try to bring something to the team. I could do better on a few small balls,” he said. “The coach asks me to go one against one, to bring danger. I can interchange with Griezmann and get into the axis. The coach always asks me to create opportunities.”
Dembele also made it clear that he is happy and settled in the France squad and is enjoying being part of the group at the World Cup.
“I like the good atmosphere, that everything is going well in the team, that’s why I get on well with everyone,” he added. “In 2018, it was the group that won, not individuals.”
France are aiming to retain the trophy they won in Russia in 2018. Les Bleus face Denmark next and then finish off their group campaign against Tunisia.
Dembele Praises France Teammate
There’s no doubt that Mbappe is the superstar in the France team but fellow striker Olivier Giroud stole the headlines against Australia. The AC Milan man scored twice and joined Thierry Henry at the top of France’s all-time goalscorer list on 51 goals.
Dembele made it clear that he believes the 36-year-old remains key to France’s hopes of success in Qatar.
“Every time he’s been selected whilst I’ve been here, he has been decisive. It is a huge source of pride for him to reach Henry’s record,” he added. “We hope he’ll score as much as possible. Since I’ve known him, he’s been a top guy, who speaks with everyone. He has experience as well, and he’s won everywhere he’s been. He is a key man in our team.”
France are without some key players such as Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, and N’Golo Kante for the World Cup due to injury. However, there’s still plenty of quality, particularly in attack with Dembele joining Mbappe, Giroud and Antoine Griezmann in the starting XI.