Ousmane Dembele believes Barcelona can challenge to win the Champions League after the France winger signed his new two-year contract.
Former Borussia Dortmund star Dembele looked to be heading out of Barcelona in January when acrimonious wrangling over his future led to him being ordered to find a new club.
At the time, Dembele had refused an extension to his deal, which ran through to the end of June, and Barcelona wanted to recoup some of his value rather than see him leave on a free transfer.
Yet it was all hugs and good will on Thursday as 25-year-old Dembele completed the formalities of the contract that will keep him at Barcelona until the end of the 2023-24 season.
Hampered by hamstring and knee trouble during his first five years at the club, Dembele hopes better times lie ahead.
He said: “It’s a very happy day. Barca have been my club since I was little, and I hope to help them.
“These have been very difficult years due to injuries, but now it is another time. Staying was always my first option. I told this to the president and coach. It has taken a long time, but we are all happy. I’m looking forward to the season starting.
“The goal is to win titles, the dream is the Champions League, and I’m going to give everything to win this title. I’m going to work hard, and I hope it’s a very good year for me and for Barca.”
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 14, 2022
Dembele believes Barcelona are well placed, with Xavi as head coach and Joan Laporta pulling the strings as president, to bring the glory days back to Camp Nou.
He said there were “many people who have helped me a lot” at Barcelona, adding: “Now I have the confidence of everyone, and I am much better.”
Laporta will be hoping Dembele delivers on his word as he looks to put the promise into practice, having been a key performer over the second half of last season.
Dembele has made 150 appearances for Barca and came to the fore when setting up 13 goals in the 2021-22 LaLiga campaign – more than any other player in the Spanish top flight.
He was particularly impressive after Xavi summoned him to help the team once it was clear he would not be moving on. Across the LaLiga campaign he made just 15 starts, plus six substitute appearances, so Dembele will be looking to play a fuller role in future.
Laporta, who hopes to close out the signing of Raphinha from Leeds United this week, said the signing of Dembele to new terms marked “a very important day for Barca”.
“He has always wanted to stay and the truth is that he has made an effort to enter the new salary scale,” Laporta said.
“Dembele has an incomparable talent, very specific. He brings us a lot. Xavi has loved him from the first moment.
“This year is very important, we have to win trophies. I am convinced that we will achieve it. Today is a very emotional day for me. The coach loves you, but so does the club.”