Ousmane Dembele got a standing ovation from the Nou Camp after a masterclass in the Copa del Rey quarter-final win over Real Sociedad, completing a quite remarkable turnaround.
He had been absent from proceedings amid a contract send-off but after returning to the squad, was met with a chorus of boos when his name was read out by the stadium announcer.
Xavi Hernandez asked the fans to stop booing the France international and to get behind him. But he also predicted that the former Borussia Dortmund winger would “turn the whistles into applause.”
And the Barca and Spain legend was absolutely right. Dembele signed a new two-year contract in the summer and has been one of the Blaugrana’s top performers this season.
Against La Real, he scored the winner – a thumping finish at the near post – as the La Liga leaders moved into the semi-finals.
And he was a constant threat throughout, running his full-back ragged. He’s playing with such confidence at the moment and Barca fans have changed their tune massively.
When he was substituted in the 84th minute, Dembele was met with huge applause from the 59,000 supporters in attendance.
He clapped all corners of the ground as he exited the pitch in some wonderful scenes.
Xavi could not be more delighted over the resurgence of Dembele, who was signed for a €105 million fee as a 20-year-old in 2017.
Post-match, he said: “It’s not just today. He’s a player who has matured a lot since we’ve been here. We give him the tools. I see a lot of quality in him.
“Dembele is a player with tremendous potential. I believe in him a lot. Full-backs always suffer when they have to defend him. He’s a good guy. He’s turned the tables and I’m very happy for him.”
Barcelona return to action on Saturday against Catalan neighbours Girona at Estadi Montilivi.