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O. Dembélé

'He made me love Barcelona' - Dembele hails Messi and addresses Argentina 'aggression' ahead of World Cup final

7:36 pm AEDT 17/12/22
Ousmane Dembele France 2022
Ousmane Dembele hailed Lionel Messi as an 'exceptional player' and claimed the Argentine helped him to fall in love with his current club Barcelona.
  • France face Argentina in World Cup final
  • Messi & Dembele former team-mates
  • Dembele a huge Messi fan

WHAT HAPPENED? Dembele joined Barcelona in 2017 from Borussia Dortmund and played alongside Messi for four seasons. The winger also suggested that in order to lift the World Cup for the second consecutive time, Les Bleus need to keep a check on the Argentina skipper's movement.

WHAT THEY SAID: Speaking to reporters, Dembele said: "He’s an exceptional player, one of those who made me love Barcelona along with Iniesta. I spent four great years with him. He’s a normal guy in the dressing room, he helps young players. He gave me a lot. He’s difficult to control and we’ll have to do everything we can to make sure he touches the ball as little as possible."

THE BIGGER PICTURE: On criticisms aimed at Argentina's perceived on-field aggression in the ongoing World Cup, the Frenchman added: "I don’t think they do it out of malice. But in football you have to be aggressive, you have to be ready to hit back. We’re hoping to counter them and have a good game. I think it’s going to be a very good match."

IN TWO PHOTOS:

WHAT NEXT? Both Argentina and France will hope to lift their third World Cup title as they square off in the final on Sunday.