Will it be forth time lucky for Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona?

The French winger has trained well and looks stronger than ever as Koeman looks to get the most out of Dembele

Dembélé acelera en su recuperación en la Ciutat Esportiva | FC Barcelona

Yesterday as the three-year anniversary since Ousmane Dembele made his debut for FC Barcelona against Espanyol. Over that period of time he's spent 512 days out of action, has missed 80 matches, 9 injuries and even his own teammates have questioned his professionalism.

Dídac Peyret

@didacpeyret

Despite all that, a large section of the Barcelona fanbase is desperate to see what Dembele can do this season. The French forward is special hasn't had many special moments in a Barça shirt but the ones he has produced were magical. The best version of Dembele is someone who inspires optimism, a man who offers something different to everyone else in the squad, and someone who can score vital goals in important matches.

There are aspects to Dembele's game which need improving. He has often blown hot and cold, perhaps due to that lack of consistency, and is more suited to highlight packages on YouTube than over 90 minutes of a single match. Whilst he's capable of frustrating the crowd, he's also someone who makes things happen. He's different.

Barça wouldn't have paid over €100m for someone who wasn't special. Unofficially tasked with replacing Neymar, injuries have hampered his influence on the side. He went from being almost ever-present for Rennes and Dortmund to being made of glass once he put on a Barça shirt. Every time the optimism and confidence builds, he seems to suffer a setback.

He suffered yet another serious injury back in February but the late end to the season, coupled with a later start to the upcoming one, has allowed Dembele to train more and build up his fitness and confidence throughout the summer months. He's ready.

Dembele was available for the Champions League in Lisbon but Setien decided it wasn't worth the risk to throw him onto the pitch. Then again, there wasn't much time for him to be involved either as Barça crashed out 8-2 to Bayern Munich. Under Ronald Koeman, Dembele has a clean slate and a new manager to impress. 

Quite where Dembele fits into Koeman's tactics is unknown at the moment. If he opts for 4-2-3-1 with Messi just behind the main striker, it would allow Dembele to play in his favoured right wing role. Although he's equally comfortable playing off the left.

He's scored 19 goals and provided 17 assists in 74 matches for Barcelona. But just like last season, the new campaign begins with fresh hope that this will finally be the season that Dembele explodes onto the scene at the Camp Nou. Will it be fourth time lucky?

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