Arsenal eyeing swoop for Barcelona ace Ousmane Dembele but Lionel Messi is doing his best to stop it

The North London side were hoping to make a move for the French star, but Dembele's team-mates seem to be trying to put Arsenal off him.

The troubled Barcelona star angered chiefs yesterday by turning up two hours late for a light training session, but his team-mates are prepared to turn a blind eye to his off the field antics and attitude.

Last month, Dembele was on the bench for Barca's Champions League clash with Inter Milan after skipping a team meeting and was left out of the squad completely for their loss to Real Betis after failing to show up to training.

But his performance during Barcelona's 4-0 win over Expanyol on Saturday was enough for Messi to back him.

Speaking to reporters after the game, the Argentinian ace said: "We are happy for Dembele. Today he has scored again.

"He is animated and will do very well. We need Dembele."

Messi's comments will no doubt come as a blow to the Gunners, who were eyeing up a January swoop for the World Cup winner.

The Gunners are in the market for a forward as Danny Welbeck is likely to miss the remainder of the season while he recovers from a broken ankle.

Dembele was thought to be the perfect man for the job thanks to his eight goals from 19 games and seemed to be a popular choice among Arsenal fans.

They are currently having to make do with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has only scored twice and provided one assist in 13 appearances.

The Armenian playmaker has frustrated fans, who are less than impressed with his struggle to adapt to life at the Emirates.

Supporters took to Twitter to slam his performance against Bournemouth, with some even claiming he hadn't had a good game since he swapped places with Alexis Sanchez.

GAME BOY: Barcelona ace shuns party lifestyle to play PlayStation instead

Thankfully for Unai Emery, his side seem to be doing OK in spite of the Armenian's input and have gone on an impressive unbeaten run.

But, the Spanish manager and Arsenal chiefs had hoped to boost their squad by signing Dembele.

The Dembele defence

  • Sergio Busquets:
    "It's not as difficult as it seems from the outside. Ousmane is a good boy, young, who has come from a foreign country and needs an adaptation process. He's a great footballer, we want to help him and hopefully he gives us a lot because he can do it."
  • Ivan Rakitic:
    "It's not easy to come to the largest club in the world and the daily pressure that comes with it and having to endure that. You have to give him time. He has unbelievable qualities and I am sure that he will take the next step. You have to turn a blind eye to such a player. It's worth doing that for such players because they have a huge career ahead of them."
  • Gerard Pique:
    "We have to help Dembele to see that football is 24 hours. You have to live it from the first minute to the last. All his teammates are here to help him… we've all been young and we've all made mistakes.
  • Luis Suarez:
    “It's not that he did not adapt, because the relationship with his team-mates is very good. We see him being happy. But as some of my team-mates have said, and Ousmane knows, football is a privilege for every player, and I think he needs to focus more, and be more serious on some points. There are many people around him in Barcelona who he can draw inspiration from, people with great professionalism. But he deserves to be there and triumph with Barcelona.”

The Barcelona struggler has many allies within the Nou Camp and despite angering the club's bosses with his behaviour he received the backing of Gerard Pique.

Pique, who has achieved legendary status at Barca, believes that the Frenchman just needs some guidance.

When the forward was dropped, the Spanish defender said: It's a strategic decision but we're all here to help him out.

"He's young and got a lot of potential. We've all been young and made errors, so from our experience we've got to help him realise that football is a 24 hour game- you've got to live and breathe it."


Source: Read Full Article