Ousmane Dembele has revealed the advice Lionel Messi gave him at Barcelona ahead of France’s final against Argentina on Sunday.
Dembele and Messi were teammates for four seasons at Barcelona before the Argentine joined Paris Saint-Germain last year.
Dembele, who has been hampered by injury issues throughout his time at Barcelona, will go up against Messi in the World Cup final with France aiming to become the first nation to successfully defend the trophy.
And the 25-year-old has revealed how Messi encouraged him to adapt his playing style following his £135.5m move from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.
‘I arrived at 20 years old and I wanted to do everything by myself,’ Dembele said.
‘He gave me calmness, he told me there was a time to dribble and a time to pass.
‘I spent four very good years at Barcelona, he is one of those who made me love Barcelona along with [Andres] Iniesta. In the dressing room he is very simple, he loves the young players.
‘I used to sit next to him in the dressing room and he has helped me a lot. We have to try to make sure he touches the ball as little as possible because he is very dangerous.’
Dembele also played down the severity of the virus which has swept through France’s squad and ruled , Kingsley Coman and Ibrahima Konate out of Friday’s training session.
‘It doesn’t worry us,’ said Dembele.
‘After a day I went to see Dayot [Upamecano] with my mask on and he was much better.
‘For the players and the staff it doesn’t worry us. We just took precautions.
‘When Dayot had the virus, he stayed in his room the first day and the next day he was better.’
Dembele was also unsure over reports claiming that Karim Benzema could return to France’s squad for the final in Qatar.
When asked about Benzema’s possible return, Dembele said on Friday: ‘I do not know. I am not the coach, it is he who decides.
‘I believe Benzema was injured and I have no explanation.’
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