Who is Ousmane Dembele?

With the ongoing speculation about Arsenal’s supposed interest in France wonder-kid Ousmane Dembele, we decided to ask Opta Sport’s Stade Rennais analyst Simon Lillicrap for the lowdown on one of Europe’s hottest prospects.

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Ousmane Dembele is one of the hottest young prospects in Europe right now and certainly has the talent to be heading right to the very top. His goal against Marseille made the 18-year-old the youngest player in Ligue 1’s history to reach 10 goals in a season, despite him only making his debut in November. Mikael Silvestre, Presidential Adviser at Rennes, heaped the praise on the youngster, touting him as a ‘future Ballon D’or winner’, and has even compared him to a young Cristiano Ronaldo. High praise indeed.

Despite only making his first team debut midway through this term, the Frenchman was tempted away from Rennes in the summer after impressing for the reserves. Salzburg were rep
orted to pay upwards of two million euros for him, whilst Manchester City were also rumoured to be interested in the teenager. However his mother convinced him to stay put at Rennes and sign his first professional contract, and Dembele’s agent has even admitted that it will be up to her if he leaves this summer!

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Stade Rennes does appear to be the perfect place for Ousmane, he is quickly becoming their main man, now being deployed in a number ten role more frequently where he can find space to work in, in-between the defensive lines. Their academy continues to produce quality footballers and he is the latest, and dare I say it, biggest gem of the lot. He follows in the footsteps of players like Joann Gourcuff (who is back at the club), Sylvain Wiltord, Jimmy Briand and Mikael Sylvestre, who all made their name after coming through the academy into the first team.

The philosophy
which works at Rennes is simple and so many other clubs are trying to imitate it. The academy is there to provide players for the first team, and this philosophy means that young players will be given a chance.  Recently, players such as Abdoulaye Doucoure, (now at Watford) and Joris Gnagnon have made impressions on the first team after promotion from the academy.

Dembele’s key attributes and free playing style are what has caught the eye of so many of Europe’s big clubs.His two footed-ness is such a weapon in unlocking defences as they are often clueless to which way he is going to go, and the speed and trickery he also possess have drawn up comparisons to Neymar. He can play on either wing, up front or in the position where he is most effective and creative, the number 10 role. His set pieces add another string to his bow, taking the majority of them with his right foot, his delivery is brilliant and often creates a lot of problems for the opposition.ousmane d

These attributes have led to an astonishing 10 goals and 5 assists in 15 starts for Rennes. Unbelievable statistics for an 18-year-old in their first ever professional season. He has had such an impact on the team that they have gone from mid table to Champions League chasers. His call up to the French under-21 team means the national team have also recognised his raw talent, and if he continues this form until the end of the season who’s to say he won’t sneak into France’s Euro 2016 team?

Dembele has come out and said the despite the rumours, no deal has been agreed with Bayern Munich, who were rumoured to have secured his services. It does look likely that he will be leaving the French club in the summer and start a bidding war in the process, but which of Europe’s top clubs will snap up this hugely talented youngster?

He could play at any level he wants to and I truly believe if he fulfils his potential and keeps improving at the rate he is, he will become the world’s best player. Young, hungry, two-footed and immensely skilful, whichever club snaps him up will be signing the next big thing.





Guest Writer

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