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Xavi: ‘Ousmane Dembele is at the same level as the best Neymar’

Xavi: ‘Ousmane Dembele is at the same level as the best Neymar’

Barcelona boss Xavi has said that Ousmane Dembele is currently “at the same level as the best Neymar“, with the attacker impressing in the early stages of the 2022-23 campaign.

The 25-year-old has scored once and provided four assists in five appearances for the Catalan side this term, including two assists in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League.

Following the European contest, Xavi paid tribute to the attacker, who departed Barcelona on a free transfer at the end of June before re-signing for the club shortly after.

“Dembele is in excellent form. He’s happy. He’s enjoying himself, and he’s very important to me. He assists and he scores. He’s like a dagger, and we have to take advantage of that,” Xavi told reporters.

“Dembele is at the same level as the best Neymar. He had suffered a lot in his first years here, but I always said it. He has great abilities, and he deserves everything that is happening to him.

Barcelona boss Xavi on August 13, 2022© Reuters

“There are no wingers in the world that can cut inside to both sides like Dembele can. I had never seen a player with his ability to dribble 1v1. You rarely find players like that. Trust me, he’s an amazing player.”

Dembele, who has scored 33 goals and registered 38 assists in 155 matches for Barcelona in all competitions, was linked with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain over the summer.

However, the Frenchman recently revealed that he was never interested in representing another club.

“There was none of that (pre-agreement with another club), I only spoke with Barca. And I told my representative only Barca and in the end we are all happy,” he told Mundo Deportivo.

“Since Xavi arrived, I have lived my best moments at Barca. For me, or for the other wingers, his way of seeing football suits us very well. The relationship with Xavi is very good, he has always told me the truth, he supports me a lot and I am happy.”

Ousmane Dembele in action for Barcelona in April 2022© Reuters

Xavi also hailed Robert Lewandowski, who scored a hat trick in the European affair, branding the Poland international “a marvellous person and professional”.

“Lewandowski is insatiable. Hat-trick for Lewandowski today. But not only that, he plays and he makes the team play. He knows the third man, and reads space to perfection. I’m in love. His signing was fantastic,” Xavi added.

“We never had any doubts with the signing of Lewandowski. We knew his abilities, his humility, and he had a great desire to sign for Barcelona. He’s a marvellous person and professional, really.

“I don’t know if Lewandowski is the best striker in Europe, but he is the best striker for us. Lewandowski… who else? [Karim] Benzema too. I think they’re the best right? [Erling Braut] Haaland too. But it’s difficult to compare them.”

Barcelona will be bidding to make it four straight La Liga victories when they continue their domestic campaign away to Cadiz on Saturday evening.

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