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Ousmane Dembele gamble worth it… ish

Arsenal may need to find a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replacement. Taking a huge gamble on Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele as that replacement might just be worth it.

Arsenal may need a replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The 30-year-old will have one year remaining on his contract at the end of the season. Given his hesitation to commit to a new deal this season as the Gunners’ Champions League status remains up in the air, the club might be forced into selling their star goalscorer.

If that is the case, what money they do raise in a sale will need to be reinvested in a successor. Aubameyang has 17 Premier League goals on the season. He was the Premier League’s co-Golden Boot winner last season. In his two-and-a-half years at club, he has scored almost a third of the Gunners’ Premier League goals.

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Under Mikel Arteta, Aubameyang has been productive and important as ever. But he has done so from an inverted left-wing role that is not his most natural. In replacing him, Arsenal could find a similarly productive attacking player who is a better fit in the wing position to provide greater offensive balance, something the team has struggled with under Arteta. And one possible name that the club turn to is Barcelona castaway, Ousmane Dembele.

The Frenchman would be a huge gamble. He has played fewer than 500 minutes this season, scoring just one goal and adding zero assists. In fact, his entire time at Barcelona has been hugely underwhelming. Commanding an eight-figure fee when he signed from Borussia Dortmund, Dembele has never been able to force his way into the Barcelona starting XI with any regularity.

He is also injury-prone having missed 53 matches since the start of last season until the end of the current season, given that he has already been ruled out of the remainder of the campaign. The injury that sees him sit on the sidelines at present is a hamstring tear. That is a problematic issue for a player who relies on his speed and quickness. Muscular issues are synonymous with such players, and Dembele’s injuries have started early in his career?

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He would also be very expensive. An £80 million fee has been muted, with Barcelona keen to recoup as much of the £135.5 million they invested him almost three years ago. And his wages would be more on top of that. So why should Arsenal be interested at all? Dembele is injury-prone, out-of-favour and expensive. He seems like a terrible signing, right?

Well, put simply, he is a special talent. Dembele is still only 22 years old. He is an outrageous dribbler, a decent finisher, a terrific creator, frighteningly fast, with and without the ball, and boasts the ideal skill set to play out wide in modern football. It is not understating his talent that he could one day be the best player in the world. Barcelona signed him as a potential replacement for Neymar, after all.

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It would be a massive risk, for all the reasons outlined. Price, injury, character concerns. Dembele has all bases covered. But he is also a special talent, and he might, might, be worth the risk.

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