32-year-old Arturo Vidal has been playing for Champions League contenders nearly his entire career, and with 501 first-team professional appearances plus another 113 international caps, younger talent would be wise to listen to his advice.
Even the advice that might be hard to hear.
Vidal came down hard on his 22-year-old Barcelona teammate, saying the French international “has to mature” and “become aware of what he really wants in life.”
Dembele arrived at Barcelona as a highly-touted young Borussia Dortmund talent in the summer of 2017 for a hefty $140 million fee. In his two years at Barcelona thus far, Dembele has yet to truly grasp a first-team place thanks to injuries and inconsistent form. Vidal believes an improved attitude could help Dembele become a true contributor.
“Ousmane is a football player who has a crazy talent,” Vidal told French publication L’Equipe. “When he reaches maturity, he will be an important player for Barça and for France. But, clearly, he has to mature. Listen to his body, be better prepared to avoid injuries. If you want to be the best, you should get up, eat and go to bed thinking about football. I think Ousmane will realize at some point that he has to do more.”
Those are harsh words from a teammate, but Vidal may be onto something. Dembele has been the subject of many stories regarding his personality, from the distancing of his mother to a possible video game addiction. Former Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel called him “a little crazy.” He is reportedly late to everything which has cost him a significant amount of money.
“I talk to him a lot. He is a good boy and he is the first to want to be the best. He arrived at Barça at age 20, without much experience. Ousmane must become aware of what he really wants in life, know where he plays and who he plays with. But I think I see an evolution. It must continue like this.”
Dembele has just three league appearances this season thanks to a hamstring problem, and was sent off in his last appearance against Sevilla before the international break. He remains one of the brightest young talents in the European game, but is slowly creeping towards consideration as a bust if he can’t put together a good run in the Barcelona first team and help the club kick into a new gear.