Arsenal recruitment chief Sven Mislintat has described Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembélé as a 'really special' player, stoking rumours that the Gunners could move for the star in the upcoming transfer window.
Amid reports of missing training sessions and disciplinary issues since arriving at the Camp Nou last summer for a huge fee, Dembele appears to have fallen out of favour with some of the Barcelona hierarchy.
The Catalans paid over £100m to bring in Dembélé from Borussia Dortmund last August but may be prepared to cut their losses if a big enough offer comes along, if reports are to be believed.
Now Mislintat has kept the rumour mill turning by singing the Frenchman’s praises in an interview in Germany.
“When I saw him, he had not even played for Stade Rennes in the first team,” he told Zeit. “I bet he did not know which foot he used in certain situations because he just did not think about it.
“I felt this is a really special player.”
Although Mislintat was still director of football at Dortmund when Dembélé forced through his transfer by refusing to train, the Arsenal head scout insists he has no issues with the player, and still views him as an electrifying prospect capable of changing any team’s fortunes.
He added: “The change was made by the signatures of the club officials, not by a strike.
“As a club, we must channel the strengths and weaknesses of our players and stop complaining.
“Ousmane did not come to training – right. But this ability to develop strategies to exploit every gap was worth gold on the field.
“Ousmane decided to play games for us and was significantly responsible for the 2017 cup victory."
Despite his problems off the field, Dembélé currently has five goals and two assists in his 13 La Liga appearances this season, as Barcelona sit top of the table after 14 matches played.