The coronavirus pandemic will no doubt affect this summer’s transfer window, perhaps halting a few key moves. But, that doesn’t mean the window will be completely redundant. Some clubs still need to strengthen, and others need to find funding through player sales.
Strikers such as Timo Werner, Lautaro Martinez and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are being continually linked with moves this summer, which could initiate a transfer merry-go-round. However, with all eyes being on Werner and Martinez for the most part, Lyon’s Moussa Dembele has been seen as somewhat of a consolation prize for clubs if they can’t get any of the aforementioned trio.
And that shouldn’t be the case.
While the rest of Europe’s top leagues are set to resume play, Ligue 1’s current 2019/20 season has been cancelled, meaning Dembele’s season is over. The 23-year-old finished with a healthy rate of 22 goals and seven assists in all competitions for Lyon, putting himself out there ahead of a potential summer switch.
Since signing with the French side in 2018, Dembele has quietly gone from strength to strength, slowly become one of the better forwards on the continent, and one of few traditional out-and-out number nines that still exist at the top level.
While he isn’t without his limitations, Dembele has proved his worth and his abilities could be of use to one of Europe’s biggest clubs next season.
The Frenchman, who is yet to make an appearance for the national team at senior level, is a traditional striker. His biggest strengths lie in his resilient, hard work on and off the ball, his positioning, off-the-ball movement, and his clinical finishing.
Dembele likes to stay quite central, but will often drop deeper to help win back the ball from the opposition, or to create space in behind for his teammates to attack. His seven assists this season show that he has an eye for goal in more than one capacity.
With Lyon mostly playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation this season, Dembele has been the lone striker and supported by three attacking players in behind, who look to break lines with direct play and pace. Manchester United have been linked with Dembele previously, and often set up in much similar fashion. With Bruno Fernandes adding an extra dimension of technical quality to United’s attack, Dembele could fit in as the lone striker they need up top.
While people have doubted his abilities as a consistent goalscorer from open play, Dembele is a constant threat in front of goal, managing a goal every 137 minutes in Ligue 1 this season. 16 of his 22 strikes have come in the league, leaving him third-top scorer behind only Kylian Mbappe and Wissam Ben Yedder. Not bad company, nor a bad strike rate.
All sounds good, but it is equally as important to consider his limitations, which have held him back from reaching the top level so far. While Dembele has shown promise in front of goal and off the ball, his technical qualities must improve. The 23-year-old is often caught holding onto possession for too long, whether that be over complicating a situation or simply making the wrong decision. This, combined with a shaky passing ability, must improve quickly if Dembele wants to succeed..
For a club like Manchester United or Chelsea, they need a striker who is technically sound. Romelu Lukaku was criticised by fans for his poor touch, while Tammy Abraham has come under fire this season for similar inconsistencies. If Dembele is to move to the Premier League, his play on the ball must sharpen up.
While he isn’t quite the finished product just yet, and is playing in a league which has become known for its poor level of football, Dembele is still a more than competent striker and should be on the radar of a number of top clubs. Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal could well do with his services to bring serious competition among the ranks, provided that he can adapt to the pace of the Premier League.
Depending on the price paid and the time given to him to learn and play regularly, Moussa Dembele might just prove to be the perfect bit of business for a big club this summer.