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Ousmane Dembele hails Xavi & admits he always wanted Barcelona stay

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Ousmane Dembele’s future was one of the biggest topics of the first half of 2022. His Barcelona contract was winding down and there were suggestions that not only could the club not afford to re-sign him, but he may not want to remain at Camp Nou anyway.

All the speculation came to an end, however, when Dembele inked a new two-year deal to remain part of the team led by Xavi, whose impact on the deal is understood to have been significant.

Sitting down with Mundo Deportivo, Dembele reflected on the entire saga.

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Are you enjoying your best moment at Barça?

“This year yes, and the last months of last year after Xavi arrived. Since then I have enjoyed my best moments at Barça.”

What does Xavi ask of you at a tactical level?

“Xavi wants both wingers open, ready for one against one, giving assists and scoring goals. For me and the other wingers, his way of seeing football suits us very well.”

Have you asked for any changes in your daily work? Your injury record is much better now.

“Yes, there have been changes. I work much more with physiotherapists and my personal physio, who I’ve had for almost three years. Here, I work a lot with Carlos Nogueira, the physio, he is very good.

“They key is working off the field. If you don’t work off the field, you will surely get injured, as happened to me before, after I came here at 20 years old. Prevention did not work much and I had many injuries. It’s clear that if you don’t work, you can’t enjoy football and you’re not going to play much. Now, I am stronger.”

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What is your relationship with Xavi like?

“It’s a bit like the relationship I had with Thomas Tuchel who was, until now, the coach with whom I had the best bond.

“The relationship with Xavi is very good. He always tells me the truth, supports me a lot and I’m happy with that. I like coaches who are straight with me. Xavi tells me the truth, if you’re going to play, if you have to improve… I’m very happy with Xavi.”

Ousmane Dembele has been a regular starter under Xavi this season

Ousmane Dembele has been a regular starter under Xavi this season / Alex Caparros/GettyImages

You always said you wanted to stay, why did it take so long?

“I always told Xavi that I wanted to continue here, if he took a long time it was because of negotiations, but I always said that I wanted to continue at Barça and in the end we are all happy.”

There were rumours you had a pre-agreement with a club?

“There was none of that, I only spoke with Barça. And I told my representative that it was only Barça.”

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Were you ever scared the renewal would not go through?

“Never. I dedicated myself to being focused on the field and playing, and I was always convinced that I was going to renew. I had a very good relationship with Xavi, the president and with Mateu Alemany. It was just a matter of negotiations.

“I had a very good vibe from the first day with [Joan] Laporta, [Rafael] Yuste and Alemany, with everyone.”

What was it like in January, being dropped because of the renewal issue?

“I was alright, because I only focus on what happens on the pitch and on playing. I left the rest in the hands of my agent and the club. I was clear that I wanted to continue at Barça and that I was going to continue here. My representatives were, too.

You renewed for two seasons, would you like to stay for more?

“Yes, I am doing well here, very happy with the coach. I have a very good relationship with him and with the team. There are many young players, there is a very good atmosphere in the club and I am very happy to be here.”

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EPL

RUMOUR: Man Utd could launch shock Pickford swoop as they consider letting De Gea go

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RUMOUR: Man Utd could launch shock Pickford swoop as they consider letting De Gea go

Manchester United may consider a shock bid for Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the midst of uncertainty encompassing David De Gea’s future, reports propose.

As per the Telegraph, United are not persuaded they need to broaden De Gea’s agreement, which runs out in June and procures him an astounding £350,000, and could allow him to go free of charge in June.

The Spanish shot-stopper, who was omitted from Luis Enrique’s Spain squad for the international break, suffered a poor start to the season with a raft of errors most notably at Brentford.

And United are also dealing with a high wage bill that reached a Premier League record of £384million last season.

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The Red Devils announced earlier this week that their salaries have increased by a whopping £61.6m from the previous year.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s return as well as Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane’s arrivals led to a 19.1 per cent increase in their salary bill as well as a net loss amounting to £115.5m.

United are assessing their long-term plans and a change between the sticks can’t be ruled out, even though De Gea, 31, has improved recently and has been integral in the last 11 years at Old Trafford.

That could bring England’s No1 Pickford, 28, into the frame come January.

The Everton shot stopper has various clubs carefully monitoring his situation as he will have just one year left on his Everton contract at the end of the season.

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The England international is also a homegrown player, which is very appealing to his suitors.

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Rob Page says Wales ‘will be in contact’ with LAFC regarding Gareth Bale’s World Cup fitness

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Wales boss Rob Page has revealed he’ll remain in close contact with LAFC regarding Gareth Bale’s fitness as the World Cup approaches.

Bale played the full 90 minutes as Wales lost 1-0 against Poland on Sunday in a result that confirmed their relegation from their UEFA Nations League group.

However, that’s the first time the 33-year-old has managed a full game at any level since March of this year, while he hasn’t gone 90 at club level since a La Liga match against Getafe for Real Madrid in April 2020.

Wales’ next game is their World Cup Group B opener against the United States on November 21. Before then, it’s vital Bale plays as many minutes as possible in the MLS regular season and Playoffs for LAFC.

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“They want Gareth available for them and we want him in the physical position for the first [World Cup] game against the USA. We will be in contact with them and make sure he is in the right place,” Page said of Bale’s situation at LAFC, where only two of the forward’s 11 appearances have been from the start.

“What he does from now until the first game, we will be in contact with the club and help manage those minutes. They are a good outfit, LA, so they will know exactly how to get him from where he is now to full fitness, which is 90 minutes week in, week out.”

LAFC are level on 64 points with the Philadelphia Union at the top of the overall MLS standings. The Black and Gold have just two more regular season games remaining – away to the Portland Timbers and at home against Nashville SC – before they begin their Playoffs run.

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Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.



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Federico Bernardeschi reveals why he switched Juventus for Toronto FC & MLS

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Federico Bernardeschi has revealed he had multiple offers after leaving Juventus, but the ambition of Toronto FC and Major League Soccer played a key role in his move across the Atlantic.

The 28-year-old Italy international was one of a number of eye-catching additions for TFC this summer alongside compatriots Lorenzo Insigne – who agreed a contract earlier in the year – and Domenico Criscito.

Speaking to TLN, Bernardeschi has revealed he turned down other offers from ‘important’ clubs to move to Toronto.

“I believe that I finished a journey at Juventus. There were various teams we spoke to, and various teams that came forward,” he said.

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“They’re important names and I thank them, but there were little things that didn’t work out one way or another. With Toronto, everything went smoothly.”

Though TFC have continued to struggle, Bernardeschi has made an excellent start in MLS, scoring eight goals and assisting another two in his first 11 appearances.

That’s given the forward plenty of time to evaluate the quality of the league, and Bernardeschi has certainly been impressed by MLS so far.

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“I think MLS has a great future, I think they have very big projects, not only here in Toronto as they’re showing, but for the entire league,” he said.

“This is good for all football worldwide but especially for football and sport in North America. It is beautiful to see and for sure it’s beautiful to be a part of.”

Watch the story of Charlotte FC’s journey to MLS in 90min’s The Making of Charlotte FC, presented by DoorDash, on 90min channels now. Subscribe to our new US YouTube channel.

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