BREAK­OUT STA R

Af­ter an in­jury-in­ter­rupted start to his ca­reer in Spain, Barcelona’s French star is now mak­ing his mark

World Soccer - - Player Biography - Words: Nick Bid­well

Aconur­ba­tion in Nor­mandy of just 50,000 in­hab­i­tants, Evreux has emerged in the past cou­ple of decades as one of the most fer­tile ar­eas for foot­balling tal­ent in France. For­mer France full-back Bernard Mendy, ex-Lille, Paris Saint-Ger­main and Lyon mid­fielder Mathieu Bod­mer and cur­rent Mar­seille and Les Bleus keeper Steve Man­danda all come from the town. As does po­ten­tially the best of the lot: 21-year-old Ous­mane Dem­bele, who cost € 105mil­lion when he joined Barcelona from Borus­sia Dortmund last year. A mem­ber of France’s World Cup-win­ning squad this sum­mer, Dem­bele now calls Camp Nou and Stade de France home. But as an ado­les­cent he had to make do with a rec­tan­gle of tar­mac among the hous­ing blocks of the down-at-heel Madeleine quar­ter of Evreux. Known as the “Play” – an­gli­cised no doubt for greater cool­ness – this was

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