I'm no Neymar - Dembele
MADRID, Spain (AP):
Newly signed Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele said there is a long way to go before he can be compared to Neymar, the Brazilian star he is replacing at the Catalan club.
As he was officially introduced to fans yesterday, the 20-year-old Dembele tried to avoid any parallels with Neymar, who left in a world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in the offseason.
"There is a difference between me and Neymar," Dembele said through a translator. "He is one of the best players in the world, he is excellent. I'm young, I've only played two seasons as a professional. I'm trying to learn every day, I'm trying to improve."
Dembele said he was fulling a dream by joining the club he cheered for since he was a child, and that he was looking forward to playing alongside Lionel Messi.
"I want to learn from him," he said. "He is a fantastic player, the best in history. It will be an honour to play in his team. I want to see how he plays, I want to see what he does on the field and off the field. I'm here to learn."
Barcelona paid €105 million (US$125 million) to sign Dembele from Borussia Dortmund, plus possible add-ons that could reach €147 million (US$175 million) and would make the Frenchman the second-highest transfer in football history.
"It's not a pressure," he said. "The market has changed. What is important is that I do my job on the field. I'm not going to be affected by the amount of the transfer."
Dembele's five-year contract has a buyout clause of €400 million (US$478 million).
He was signed after Neymar left for PSG in a deal worth more than €220 million (US$262 million) just before the start of the season.