Ousmane Dembele’s incredible Barcelona turnaround down to three key individuals

Ousmane Dembele has largely struggled at Barcelona since joining the club from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial £97m.

The France international was signed soon after Neymar had left the Nou Camp for Paris Saint-Germain, but a spate of injuries have marred his time at Barcelona.

In total, Dembele has been sidelined by eight separate muscle injuries in his first three seasons with the club and was limited to just nine games last year.

However, things have been going much better for the 23-year-old during the current campaign, with Dembele making a total of 35 appearances in all competitions and missing just five through injury.

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has been impressed with the forward, who has netted nine goals and provided four assists, saying last month: "Physically, Ousmane Dembele has improved a lot and I have no doubt about his quality as a player.

"I don't know how he was in the past. He's great, good one against one, and adds a lot of depth to our game. I love this player, and now he's very happy, which is very nice."

One of the secrets behind Dembele's resurgence is the presence of personal trainer Salah Ghaidi, physiotherapist Jean Baptiste Duault and chef Anthony Audebaud, who have all been working with the player.

Ghaidi is a former 400m and 800m distance runner and he told L'Equipe : "I did not know the world of football very well until I was called in to supervise Ousmane.

"My speciality is physical preparation and Ousmane has an explosive game, he is very fast, like a sprinter, the type of profile that I know best.

"It is as if we had a Formula 1 car in our hands. We are here to take care of him and help him optimise his performance. Physically, he has not reached one hundred percent yet. I’m not sure how far he can go. He is a war machine."

Duault used to work with the French athletics team and he explained: "My goal is not to make Ousmane Dembele run faster, but to make his body withstand the workload to which he is subjected to, and to prevent the risk of injury as much as possible, knowing that zero risk does not exist."

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  • Audebaud, meanwhile, is responsible for the player's diet and said: "I only cook using local, fresh and natural ingredients, without additives or preservatives. It is important that he enjoys eating and that he understands what I put in the dishes.

    "I choose ingredients based on biological analysis, the frequency and the intensity of training and competition. I can’t prepare the same menu ten days after a match as the day before."

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