‘I Can Tell You The Complete Opposite:’ Xavi Talks Dembele at Barcelona

Ousmane Dembele

Getty Xavi has praised Ousmane Dembele.

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has offered a fresh update on contract rebel Ousmane Dembele and has revealed what it has been like to work with the Frenchman at the Camp Nou.

The coach told a pre-match press conference ahead of Barcelona’s Europa League second leg against Napoli that he knows all about the rumors claiming Dembele lacks professionalism but has not found that to be the case at all.

“His contract expires in June. It’s something between him and the club. I think he’s happy, he’s been a great professional. I’m very happy with him. Even when he wasn’t called up. We have no problems with Ousmane,” he said. “I’ve heard everything: that he’s not been professional, doesn’t take care of himself but I can tell you the complete opposite. He’s been taking care of himself, is a great professional, he trains well, he’s positive with the group and we decided, and it’s not just my opinion, we can play him. If he hadn’t been so professional we might have decided something else. He’s been an example to the team and that’s what carries weight. We’ll see at the end of the season. For me he’s an important player. He’s a player I like.”

Dembele was back in the starting XI for Barcelona’s 4-1 La Liga win over Valencia last time out, picking up an assist in the victory at Mestalla. The 24-year-old is in the squad to face Napoli and could start again in Italy.

Follow the Heavy on Barcelona Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!

Ter Stegen Tells Dembele To Stay

Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen also attended the news conference and was asked about Dembele. The Germany international made it clear that he hopes the 24-year-old does decide to stay at the Camp Nou past the end of the season.

“These are individual decisions obviously. He has a contract until the end of the season. He has the option to renew. We want him to continue here with us because he has a lot of ability and we want that here for us,” he said. “But it’s his decision and the club’s. I’m not going to get involed. What I can say is that he is a player who can make a difference and he’d be great for any team in the world and I’d like him to stay with us. I think that’s the intention of everyone on our team.”

Premier League side Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain are both keen on signing Dembele as a free agent in the summer and are continuing talks with the forward, as reported by Graeme Bailey at 90min.

Xavi Talks Napoli Clash

Xavi also offered his thoughts on Barcelona’s clash with Napoli. The Europa League play-off tie is level at 1-1 after the first leg and the coach knows his team are in for a very tricky test in the return.

“We will go out and try to win it. We’ll be brave, try to keep the ball, press high. We know the fans can be intense as well, but we have to go out and play here,” he said.  “We’ll play our game style, be strong in attack and keep working the way we’ve been doing recently with the team. now more than ever, tomorrow is our biggest test.”

The winners of the tie will progress to the last 16 of the Europa League. The draw for the next round of the competition will be made on Friday, February 25.

READ NEXT: ‘He Has To Stay at the Club:’ Xavi Backs Barca Veteran

Read More