Dembele revealed the advice Barcelona gave him on how to play alongside ‘the best player in the history of football’.
‘Don’t look behind you when Lionel Messi has the ball’ was the advice Barcelona gave Ousmane Dembele when he first joined the club, with the Frenchman also praising his teammate’s extraordinary vision as ‘like he’s got eyes in the back of his head’.
Barcelona signed Dembele in 2017 for one reason – to replace the Paris Saint-Germain-bound, and Messi’s good friend, Neymar.
And, like any other young new player, sharing the pitch with somebody he rates as the greatest was a daunting prospect. But one simple bit of advice was all that was needed to ensure a smooth partnership.
Dembélé: "Messi inspired me when I was young, and he inspires me now. It’s an honor for me to play alongside him." pic.twitter.com/WixR7ESEJJ
— Barça Universal (@BarcaUniversal) February 14, 2021
“When I got here in 2017, I was told: ‘Don’t look behind you when Leo has the ball at his feet. Go and run into space. Don’t worry, the ball will reach you.’ I was constantly told that,” Dembele told UEFA.com.
“When I start running, he always finds the pass and when he can’t, he’ll try again. It’s like he’s got eyes in the back of his head.”
The former Borussia Dortmund star has shown flashes of promise in a partnership with Messi. Regular injury setbacks, however, have restricted him to just 78 appearances alongside the six-time Ballon d’Or winner in the last three-and-a-half-seasons.
“Leo is a genius, we all know about him,” Dembele added. “He’s a genius, he’s the best player in the history of football. He inspired me when I was young, he inspires me now, and it’s honestly an honor for me to play alongside him.”
Dembele also opened up on the reason behind his improved performances this season.