BARCELONA: Barcelona’s new signing Ousmane Dembele said Monday (Tuesday in Manila) he had eyes firmly fixed on winning titles and a place in France’s squad at next year’s World Cup.
Dembele, 20, transferred to Barca from Borussia Dortmund in a 105 million-euro ($125 million) deal that could rise to 145m with add-ons depending on his performance, as the Catalan giants splashed out to fill the gap left by Neymar’s own world record 222m-euro move to Paris Saint-Germain.
“What I want is to be here, to play with the world’s best players,” Dembele said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo newspaper.
The best players, he said, “are at Barca and it’s for that reason I came here. To win titles for the team and then to be able to be with the France team at the World Cup in Russia”.
Dembele again played down any comparison with Neymar.
“Neymar is a great player and I still have to strive to improve, to play as I know and offer up my best qualities,” the Frenchman said
“I like to dribble and give the decisive pass to my teammates.
“What I hope is to be able to adapt well to the team and to know them all, Messi, Suarez, Iniesta… But above all, to have a good entry into the squad.
“At Rennes I played more down the left wing, but also down the right and sometimes in midfield. At Dortmund, it was the same, I alternated wings. I don’t have problems with the position I’ll take up.”
Dembele acknowledged that Barca had been interested in signing him last season, but he said he “would not have played what I needed to”.
“I had only been playing professionally for half a year. I had to learn more,” he said.
Dembele will now form a fearsome forward line alongside five-time World Player of the Year Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez as Barca aim to wrestle the Champions League and La Liga titles back from rivals Real Madrid.
He will have to wait, however, until at least September 9 to make his debut when Barca host Espanyol in a Catalan derby.
Dembele announced himself as one of Europe’s top prospects with a stellar season at Dortmund, scoring 10 goals, after joining from Rennes for just 15 million euros a year ago.