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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 19 June 2018

Barcelona expect Dembele to provide 'attacking threat' lost by Neymar's exit

French winger is set to become the second-most expensive player in history, behind only the player he is replacing in the Barca team.

Ousmane Dembele will join Barcelona from German club Borussia Dortmund in a deal that makes him the second most expensive player in history. Martin Meissner / AP Photo
Ousmane Dembele will join Barcelona from German club Borussia Dortmund in a deal that makes him the second most expensive player in history. Martin Meissner / AP Photo

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has said he expects new signing Ousmane Dembele to ably fill the void left by Neymar following the French winger's arrival from Borussia Dortmund.

Dembele, 20, has moved to Barcelona in a deal reported to be worth €150 million (Dh657.4m), with €120m thought to be an upfront payment and the remaining €30m in performance bonuses.

The transfer of the French winger was triggered by the departure of Neymar, who joined French club PSG in a €222m world record deal earlier this month.

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Dembele is expected to take the place of Neymar in Barcelona's famed attack, previously referred to as "MSN" comprising Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar. In their three seasons together, "MSN" won the Primera Liga twice, the Uefa Champions League, and three Copa del Reys - completing the treble in 2014/15.

However, Valverde is confident Dembele will slot into the Barcelona line-up and fill the role left by the Brazilian forward.

"He's a player who guarantees an attacking threat, which is something we had lost and we badly need," Valverde said ahead of Barca's game at Alaves on Saturday.

"He can play on either wing or through the middle, he gets forward a lot and is very technical. We expect a lot from him and we're very excited about him."

The deal for Dembele makes the France international the second-most expensive player in history but Valverede has said he has no concerns about the price tag adding extra pressure.

"We know what things are like in this market as the deadline approaches and everything becomes disproportionate," Valverde said. "It seems like every club is going to sign the most expensive player of all time now because the prices are so high after Neymar's transfer. But when a player is on the pitch they don't worry about how much they cost."

Dembele's move may have been triggered by Neymar's exit, but Valverde insisted that Barcelona have been keeping a close eye on his progress for some time.

"His career is amazing. He was barely known only a few years ago but he's a real quality player," the Spaniard said.

"Barca have been interested in him for a while along with a couple of other teams. We have invested a lot of hope in him and we hope he can give us a lot of happy moments."