BARCELONA – Ousmane Dembele insisted he is not feeling under pressure to perform despite joining Barcelona as a club record signing and the second most expensive footballer of all-time.
The 20-year-old winger, signed from Borussia Dortmund for a fee which could rise to €147 million, was presented to over 17 000 fans at the Nou Camp on Monday.
“(I feel) no pressure, no nerves. It’s the transfer market going a bit crazy. But I’m here to do my work well on the pitch and help the team,” Dembele told reporters.
“I don’t feel pressure from these numbers, in fact more than pressure it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Dembele, who shot into the limelight after one season at Rennes and a €15m move to Dortmund last summer, has been signed by Barcelona following Neymar’s departure to Paris St Germain.
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However, the French international does not think he has been headhunted to fill the Brazilian’s boots at Camp Nou.
“There’s a big difference between Neymar and me. Neymar is one of the best players in the world, I am very young. I’m improving day to day, trying to improve and to grow,” said Dembele.
“I’m not here to replace Neymar. They needed a player in this position, they called me and I will give everything for this club. I’m 20, I have a lot to learn, and that’s why I’m at this big club.
“It’s an honour and a pleasure to play in a team with Lionel Messi, I want to learn from him. He’s a great player, the best player in the history of football, and I’m happy to grow in this team.”
Dembele’s presentation was delayed by an hour after a paperwork problem with Borussia Dortmund and some fans grew upset because of the delay at a baking stadium.
They chanted for Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu to resign and showed support for former chief Joan Laporta, whistling and waving white handkerchiefs, in a public demonstration of the discontent with the board that exists.
Meanwhile, Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez hinted on Monday that he is negotiating with Liverpool over Philippe Coutinho and hoped to complete a deal before the transfer window closes.
After signing Dembele, Fernandez announced his intention to bring two more players to the Nou Camp.
“It’s true we are in negotiations over a player to try and sign them. We hope to reach a deal and present a new player,” said Fernandez told a news conference when asked about Barcelona’s hopes of signing Brazilian playmaker Coutinho.
Barcelona had also been linked to Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri.
“Seri is totally ruled out. After analysing (the situation) calmly, we decided that our priority was other positions,” Fernandez said.
Coutinho plays in a more advanced role than Seri and is reported to be Barcelona’s top target, with Paris Saint-Germain’s Angel di Maria also linked to the club.
“My intention is to sign another player, if it’s possible, two,” added Fernandez.
Barcelona have added Gerard Deulofeu, Nelson Semedo, Marlon, Paulinho and Dembele to their squad for the new season.