Xavi warns Dembélé: You'll need more than talent to succeed at Barça

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OneFootball

Dan Burke

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Barcelona legend Xavi Hernández has warned Ousmane Dembélé that playing for Barcelona is not like playing for Borussia Dortmund or Rennes.

Xavi enjoyed a trophy-laden 17 years at Barça before leaving to play in Qatar in 2015 and he knows all about the weight of expectation which comes with playing at Camp Nou.

And though he’s been impressed by Dembélé’s start to life at the club, the 38-year-old says the Frenchman still has a lot of learning to do before establishing himself as a Blaugrana great.

“[Dembélé] will have to learn to think faster, in a few thousandths of a second,” Xavi told French outlet So Foot.

“This is where we will see if he has the mentality. He must say to himself: ‘I am a Barça player.’ You have to be mentally strong, to have conviction.

“He will need some time. Barça is like a final exam for a footballer. It is like Dembélé is passing a Master’s degree right now because not everyone can play for this club. Why? Because you have to know things three times more than elsewhere.

“Barca play on barely 30 metres of the pitch. Dembélé has a lot of talent, he is very fast, but here, he is not going to have the space he had at Dortmund or Rennes. He had more space, so more time there.”

Dembélé missed a huge chunk of the season due to injury but has now made a total of 14 appearances in all competitions and was particularly impressive against the likes of Girona, Malága, Chelsea and Athletic Bilbao.

But Xavi says better players than the 20-year-old have struggled in the past at Barça due to being mentally weak.

“In training, when you saw [the better players], you would say to yourself: ‘They will break everything. They’re going to be legends,'” he said.

“But no. As soon as they entered the pitch, their legs started shaking, they did not want the ball anymore. And you would wonder: ‘What’s happening to them?'”

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