Poland international striker Robert Lewandowski has made his debut for Barcelona on their tour of the United States, but it was another forward who impressed coach Xavi Hernandez.
The Spanish giants drew 2-2 in a pre-season friendly with Juventus in Dallas, with France international Ousmane Dembele netting twice at the Cotton Bowl on Tuesday.
Lewandowski played the opening hour and came close to scoring his first goal in new colours, but it was Dembele who opened the scoring in the 34th minute with a fine solo effort.
His first goal was cancelled out by Moise Kean’s equaliser in the 39th.
Dembele immediately restored Barcelona’s lead, scoring his second just a minute later, only for Kean to once again draw the Serie A side level with a second-half strike.
After the match, Xavi lavished praise on the 25-year-old Dembele, who has struggled to make an impact since joining Barca in 2017, saying he has shown a marked improvement in the eight months since Xavi took charge in November last year.
“He has shown what he is capable of. He is different, special. There are not many of this type,” Xavi told reporters.
“He gives us a lot with the way we play.
“Not everyone has the ability to make a difference in the world of soccer and he does. He is involved and he shows it. I don’t know the Dembele from before November, I don’t know him. I am very happy with this one.”
Barcelona, who finished second in Spain last season, kick off their league campaign at home to Rayo Vallecano on August 13.
Defending La Liga champions Real Madrid also drew 2-2 in the US, held by Club America in San Francisco.
Karim Benzema levelled on 22 minutes with his first goal of pre-season.
Eden Hazard scored a 55th-minute penalty before the Mexicans equalised from the spot with nine minutes to go.