Only two years ago, Ousmane Dembele was playing in France's lower divisions with modest club Rennes. On Friday, he became the second-most expensive player in soccer history when Barcelona picked him to replace Neymar in a deal that could reach 147 million euros ($173 million). The talented 20-year-old French forward suddenly turned into a star by joining the Spanish powerhouse in a transfer surpassed only by the Brazilian star's recent move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Now the pressure is on Dembele to prove his worth and show that Barcelona did the right thing by choosing him to play alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Barcelona is hoping to re-establish its successful attacking trio, so it's probably no coincidence that there is a lot of Neymar in the young Dembele - from the quickness to the nifty skills to the audacity to the ability to dazzle. Barcelona is already calling him the "prince of the dribble," someone who can amaze fans with his "sublime skill and gutsy flair." The club boasted Dembele as one of the "most promising young stars in European football," a player who has a "golden future." And it praised him as being "versatile, spectacular and efficient," someone "almost impossible" to be stopped by the rival defenses.
"He is a player who generates a lot of excitement and a lot of expectations," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "We expect a lot from him." Dembele, who will wear Neymar's former No. 11 jersey, became Barcelona's most expensive transfer ever, costing 105 million euros ($124 million) plus possible add-ons that could increase the value up to 40 percent of the original fee. Rennes will be entitled to about 40 million euros ($47.2 million) of the amount paid to Dortmund, meaning he's also the club's biggest transfer all-time.