Xavi lends support to Ousmane Dembele following Camp Nou jeers

Xavi Hernandez has backed Ousmane Dembele after Barcelona fans booed the Frenchman at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Speaking after Barcelona’s UEFA Europa League game against Napoli, as quoted by Barca Universal, Xavi Hernandez described his feelings after seeing Ousmane Dembele get jeered by Barcelona fans present at Camp Nou. The Catalan giants’ manager said that the French attacker would soon turn the whistles into applause.

Ousmane Dembele joined Barcelona as the supposed long-term replacement for Neymar in August 2017 following the Brazilian forward’s shock move to Paris Saint-Germain. But the last four and a half years have been frustrating for the player and club alike as he has spent as much time on the sidelines as on the pitch.

The never-ending fitness issues have invariably impacted his performance levels, with the player struggling to affect games consistently. It has been no different in the ongoing campaign, as Dembele has managed only one goal and two assists in 13 appearances across all competitions, garnering just 727 minutes of game-time in the process.

Things went from bad to worse last month, as Barcelona announced that they had reached a point of no return during contract negotiations with Dembele. As a result, the Catalan giants were hoping to offload the contract rebel in the January transfer window, with clubs like Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal and Chelsea heavily linked with a Deadline Day move.

But Dembele ended up staying put at Barcelona, robbing the Blaugrana of one final chance of recouping something from his sale. Now set to depart Camp Nou as a free agent, Dembele continues to be linked with PSG and Chelsea, while Newcastle United are also keen on signing him.

Unsurprisingly, all the commotion surrounding Dembele has affected Barcelona fans, and they made their feelings known when Dembele came off the bench against Napoli in their UEFA Europa League contest. Xavi has responded to the Barcelona contract rebel being jeered despite asking the supporters not to do so.

“The crowd didn’t listen to me,” said Xavi before continuing, “Dembele is going to turn the whistles into applause. We have already whistled at him and that’s it, it’s over.”

Thursday’s clash against Napoli was the first instance that Dembele had featured at Camp Nou after the saga in the January transfer window. But with Xavi insistent that the Barcelona contract rebel will be treated like any other player, the fans might warm to the idea of watching him in action at Camp Nou in the coming weeks.

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