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‘Lionel Messi made me love Barcelona’ – Ousmane Dembele

He may be his rival on the pitch in Sunday’s World Cup final, but Ousmane Dembele was keen to heap praise on Argentina’s Lionel Messi ahead of the match.

Dembele and Messi were teammates at Barcelona for four years, in which the Frenchman was amazed by the level of quality that his Argentine counterpart had. Speaking to the media ahead of the final, as per Sport, Dembele shared his experiences of Messi, who is set to play his final World Cup match in the showpiece event.

“He’s an exceptional player. I’ve always said he’s one of the players, along with Iniesta, who made me love Barcelona. I’m very happy to have had him as a teammate.

“In the dressing room he was a very simple, calm person, who helped young people a lot. I had just arrived and I remember that I was next to him in the locker room and he gave me a lot of advice.

“It will be difficult to stop him (during the final) but we will do everything possible to make him touch the ball as little as possible, because he is very, very dangerous.”

Dembele also revealed that he has spoken to club manager Xavi whilst in Qatar, who gave him advice for the tournament.

“He (Xavi) has encouraged me and told me to continue doing what I do. He said that is very happy for me, and for Jules (Kounde) as well.”

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