“Shit just gets real when a mere speculation turns into a reality.”
After being linked to so many clubs, the confirmation of 20 years old, Ousmane Dembele joining the Catalan giants created havoc in the footballing community. The France International joined FC Barcelona for a whopping 105 million euros + add-ons which made him 2nd most expensive transfer of all time with Neymar taking the no.1 spot. The player signed a five-year contract with a buy out-clause set at 400 million euros. But with the departure of Neymar to PSG, the ex-Borrusia Dortmund forward is expected to fill the void that has been created.
Dembele’s transfer to Barcelona comes with much more than the 105 million euros and add-ons (could have done it in 30m, i.e., it comes with heavy expectations – of the fans and of the club. The debate intensifies with Dembele being offered the No.11 role in the club which Neymar used to play. The vacancy in attacking trio MSN is his to fill. “Will LOL (Leo, Ousmane, Luiz) be as good as MSN?”
“Is Dembele really the successor to Neymar?” – Let’s have a look.
# The Stats
Dembele made 49 appearances in all competitions last season as compared to Neymar but ended up playing lesser minutes(3388 to 3971). This was because of Neymar being more of an experienced and integral part of his team along with his standout stamina that he was rarely substituted and hence got to play more minutes.
Proceeding to the goal tally, Neymar(20) scored just double the goals than Dembele(10) offering a much better goal ratio every 198.6 minutes.
Despite having 46 more shots (140 to 94), Neymar still boasted superior shot accuracy (54.5 per cent) and shot conversion rate (14.3 per cent) to Dembele.
The two men had a tough battle in assist tally with Neymar just edging past Dembele by 21 to 20. Also, Neymar created 129 chances to Dembele’s 100.
Neymar made 2201 passes to Dembele’s 1235 at a superior accuracy of 76.6% to 68.7%.
Neymar dominated the dribbling stats as he attempted the most dribbles(478) in Europe’s top 5 leagues while Dembele stood 3rd with 334 attempted dribbles just behind Leo Messi(340).
Till now everything seems to go in Neymar’s favor but as Mark Twain once said,
“Facts are stubborn things, but statistics are pliable.”
Let’s compare stats of the two when they were in their debut seasons,
In terms of assists and chances created, Dembele’s stats come out on top, with Neymar laying on 11 goals in 2013-14 and creating only 56 opportunities.
Given the age of both the superstars, we cannot predict much on the basis of stats but Neymar tends to be a better player in the present scenario.
Dembele’s Upper Hand
Born in Vernon, France on 15 May 1997, Ousmane Dembele is one of the best young players in the world. The French Winger stands out for his pace, ability to beat men and versatility. The 20-year-old would provide Valverde with multiple tactical options because of his ability to play on both sides of the attack and in the middle which would provide lots of possibilities for his boss. This would offer the team the much needed attacking depth which they had lost in recent time, and Leo Messi will be able to play in a free role once again.
This very fact is enough to make LOL a feared trio across the continent. The ex-Dortmund winger might compliment Messi with his dribbling abilities as he made 103 successful dribbles last season ( the most in Bundesliga). Also, Dembele clocks a tremendous speed of 34.96 Km/h slightly faster than Neymar who clocks 34.83 km/h, hence Barcelona won’t feel a slowdown on the wings.
Dembele is more sort of a playmaker, the ability which a lethal striker like Suarez can foster adding to the attacking prowess of the team.
Age is a factor which cannot be ignored in any case. Dembele has been putting nos. which Neymar didn’t put up at the age of 20. Hence, Dembele seems to be an ideal long term replacement for Neymar. His potential is what made him stand out among the several contenders.
Age might be a factor which favors the France International but there’s a different side too. Dembele is very young and inexperienced and there is a possibility that he might fail to perform under high pressure and crunch situations whereas Neymar is sort of a tested and proven material in such situations considering the Barcelona comeback against PSG as one of the examples.
Though Dembele is a great dribbler and there’s no denying the fact he isn’t as creative as the Brazilian. This a point for which LOL might not be as good as MSN. Neymar’s skills are out of this world and no other player in this world holds them.
Dembele isn’t as prolific goal-scorer as Neymar which can be seen in the stats. This is an ability which Barcelona has been hunting and still, the search continues.
The two differ in their effectiveness at this current time. Neymar is easily among the top five players alive right now, which is a tier Dembele simply can’t count himself among just yet.
Despite the above negatives, no player other than Dembele could offer Barcelona this unique mix of talent, potential, long-term viability, and raw attacking output. Hence, he seems to be an ideal replacement for Neymar in the present situation.