Ousmane Dembele a ‘better player than Neymar,’ says Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu ahead of Manchester United match

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Bartomeu also explained the club need players like Philippe Coutinho and the former Liverpool star is ‘getting better and better’

Barcelona star Ousmane Dembele is now a better player than Neymar, according to the man who signed him, Josep Bartomeu.

The Barca president oversaw Neymar’s £198m transfer to Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, with Dembele arriving from Borussia Dortmund shortly afterwards for £135m and Philippe Coutinho joining the club from Liverpool in January 2018 for £142m.

Bartomeu signed Dembele for £135m in August 2017 shortly after selling Neymar to PSG

Bartomeu signed Dembele for £135m in August 2017 shortly after selling Neymar to PSG

Both players are adequate replacements, says Bartomeu.

“I explained that we have a project with Dembele and Coutinho with Neymar’s money,’ he told Spanish television channel TVE.

“Dembele’s level is better now than Neymar’s, he’s a much better player than Neymar and he’s already adapted.”

The Camp Nou supremo was also full of praise for former Liverpool star Coutinho, who has been linked with a move away from Barcelona recently.

However, it appears the 26-year-old Brazil international is going nowhere.

“Coutinho is a great player, excellent, he’s getting better and better,” he added.

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“It’s not easy to play at Barca – he was here six months last season and he’s complete now. He has the confidence of [Ernesto Valverde] the coach. He’s a global player and we expect a lot. from him.

“He will continue at Barca. He’s different and Barca needs different players.”

Neymar cost PSG £198m in 2017, but Bartomeu believes Dembele, who replaced him in Spain, is now a much better player

Neymar cost PSG £198m in 2017, but Bartomeu believes Dembele, who replaced him in Spain, is now a much better player

Philippine Coutinho ‘will continue at Barca’ says club president Josep Bartomeu

Philippine Coutinho ‘will continue at Barca’ says club president Josep Bartomeu

On Tuesday night, live on talkSPORT at 8pm, LaLiga’s leaders host Manchester United in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

Lionel Messi is fit to play, having suffered a facial injury in the first leg in a clash with Chris Smalling. The forward was rested for Saturday’s goalless draw at bottom club, Huesca.

Barca lead 1-0 from the first leg and manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will use United’s dramatic turnaround in the previous round against PSG as inspiration.

Barcelona players train ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Man United

Barcelona players train ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Man United

“It will have helped us as a team,” the Norwegian said. “We know we can turn things around.

“Barca here at the Nou Camp is a difficult prospect but that night will live with the players. It was not that long ago and we are one goal better off [than we were then].”

Solskjaer confirmed forward Alexis Sanchez and midfielder Nemanja Matic are both available for the tie after recovering from injuries.

Sanchez, who played 141 times for Barca in a three-year spell, has been out for six weeks with a knee injury while Matic has missed the past three games.

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