Ousmane Dembele has no regrets about going on strike at Borussia Dortmund, saying such behaviour was necessary to force a move to Barcelona.
France winger Dembele secured a €105million switch to Camp Nou, signing a five-year deal, as Barca sought a replacement for Neymar following the Brazilian’s world-record €222m move to Paris Saint-Germain.
As his transfer edged closer, Dembele refused to train with Peter Bosz’s side – an act which cost him his place in the most recent France squad.
But the 20-year-old has no regrets, and says he would have in fact regretted not going on strike had the transfer failed to materialise.
“I was relaxed,” Dembele told Sport. “It was a question of negotiation between Barca and Borussia.
“I knew I had to have patience. I decided to stop going training.
“I didn’t want to go. I looked for an excuse not to go.
“If it didn’t work out and I hadn’t done my part to get the move to Barca, now I would be lamenting the fact I wasn’t here.”
Dembele credited a pair of famous Champions League fixtures as sparking a long-held interest in the Catalan giants – their semi-final victory over Chelsea in 2009 and a quarter-final tie against Arsenal in 2010 in which Lionel Messi scored four goals.
“I remember two games especially,” he said. “One against Chelsea, when [Andres] Iniesta scored the goal to qualify for the Champions League final.
“When I see Andres now I remember it. I can’t wait to tell him.
“And the other was a Champions League game against Arsenal. Barcelona had not done great in the first leg but in the second leg they produced a brilliant performance, with four goals from Messi. That’s when I realised Messi’s not from this world. It was incredible.”