Ousmane Dembele contributed to all four goals in Barcelona win, it was a masterclass
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Ousmane Dembele produced one of his best performances in a Barcelona shirt, as he had a hand in all four goals in their win over Athletic Club.
Dembele has been one of the key symbols of Barcelona's overspending in recent years, having cost the club upwards of €145 million when he signed for them in 2017, following Neymar's departure.
The former Borussia Dortmund forward has spent much of his time injured at the Nou Camp and looked to be heading for the exit back in January.
At that point the club claimed he would be sold, as he wasn't willing to sign a new contract and the current one was due to expire in the summer, which got him booed by the fans, in another fine example of the mess they'd got themselves in.
However, despite interest from several Premier League clubs, the 25-year-old signed a new incredible deal at the Nou Camp, once they'd pulled several 'levers' and were able to afford him.
He continues to delight and frustrate in equal measure, either looking like the best player in the world or becoming completely anonymous throughout.
Ahead of Sunday, Dembele hadn't scored in the league since September, although he did score in the 3-3 draw with Inter Milan in the Champions League, not even setting up a teammate for a goal in that time.
Xavi's side played usually defensively sound Athletic on the weekend, with only one side having conceded fewer goals than them before kick off.
However, the visitors to Barcelona were ripped apart by the home side and particularly Dembele, who scored the opener before going on to assist his teammates in the following three goals, in a 4-0 win.
An asbolute masterclass from @dembouz who contributed to all 4 goals.— LaLigaTV (@LaLigaTV) October 23, 2022
🎞️ #BarçaAthletic highlights 👇#LaLigaTV | #LaLigaHighlights pic.twitter.com/XMGA6UIU7x
The Frenchman opened the scoring in the 12th minute, when his shot from outside the area stung the palms of Unai Simon, who was able to push the ball away from goal.
However it only landed at Robert Lewandowski's feet, who put the ball into the six yard box, and Dembele snuck in towards the penalty spot to head home.
Sergi Roberto doubled his team's lead just six minutes later, starting the move on half way with a run, before playing a one-two with Dembele.
Roberto continued his run into the box and his shot took a deflection off Inigo Martinez and left Simon wrong footed in the goal.
The game was over in the 22nd minute as Dembele returned the earlier favour from Lewandowski to set the Polish striker up for his 12th of the league season already.
Dembele was giving full back Yuri Berchiche all sorts of issues and this time he glided past the defender before getting into the box and squaring for Lewandowski to tap home.
The scoring slowed down then but there was still time for a fourth, with 12 minutes of the game to go, this time Dembele playing a perfect through ball behind the defence, with Ferran Torres slotting home to complete his teammate's hat-trick of assists.
Ousmane Dembele vs Athletic Bilbao 22/23 pic.twitter.com/PQxSztah8p— SAM (@Fcb_s_a_m) October 23, 2022
"There are actually two Dembele’s. Identical twins who draw straws before every game to decide who plays," one fan said, summing up the Jekyll and Hyde nature of the former Rennes player.
Another amusingly compared to him to two legends of the game, saying, " I swear Dembele just wakes up each morning and decides whether he either wants to be Prime Neymar, or be like Ali Dia- no in-between."
"Dembele might have the biggest gap between their ceiling and floor out of supposed top players right now," a third added.
And a fourth credited the manager with dropping Dembele in a previous game to get the best out of him, posting, "Getting benched against Villarreal has clearly done wonders for Dembele. He looks fired up, sharp and as lethal as ever.
"This is the beauty of having depth and competition, everyone knows they can't slack off because no one's spot is safe."
Now if Dembele can just find some consistency in his game then perhaps the price Barcelona paid for him won't look quite as ridiculous...
Featured Image Credit: Barcelona/La Liga TV
Topics: La Liga, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Ousmane Dembele