Ousmane Dembélé was once made the second most expensive player in the world, when Barcelona panicked into dropping upwards of €100m on him in the final days of the 2017 transfer window, following in the wake of Neymar’s world record transfer to PSG. That fee included an additional €40-50m in bonuses as well, though it’s unlikely that they were ever hit considering the minor disaster this deal has turned out to be for all involved.
Dembélé has certainly not lived up to that fee — having been injured for practically half the time as well — however, things have taken a turn for the even worse lately, with new Barca boss Xavi trying to clean house and get the team’s results and books in somewhat of an order. Having already successfully jettisoned Philippe Coutinho (on loan to Aston Villa), he’s now trying to do the same with Dembélé, who’s been locked in contract negotiations for seemingly forever with the club but looks no closer to signing despite having just six months left.
“We’re in a position in which we have to stop this right now. Either he renews or we will look for an exit for him.”
-Xavi; source: Athletic
And Xavi’s doing this with the club’s full backing, with Barcelona director publicly telling Dembélé to kindly [FUN] right off. And you thought the Lukaku thing was D.R.A.M.A!
We started talks with Ousmane and his agent around last July, during these six months there have been discussions.
“It seems to us obvious that the player does not want to stay at Barcelona, is not committed to Barca’s future sporting project. In this scenario, we communicated to him and his agents that he must leave immediately as we want players committed to this project.
“So we hope there is a transfer before January 30.
“Our coach has decided we do not want players with us who are not committed to the project, and do not want to be at Barca. So not being in the squad is a consequence of all this. The coach makes the decision, as must be, but he has our full support.”
-Mateu Alemany; source: Athletic
While Dembélé, still just 24, fired back on Instagram, and he also has the backing of the Spanish players’ association, his time in Barcelona is surely over, for all intents and purposes. Whether he sees out his contract or goes to play somewhere else, it’s hard to see a way back for him with the Blaugrana.
And that might certainly open some possibilities for potential suitors, and so of course Chelsea have already been linked because that’s just what happens. But the even more optimistic rumor-mongers have already claimed that we’re, at best, on the periphery of this situation — which is probably a good place to be, even if Dembélé had some success with Tuchel as his coach at Borussia Dortmund.
Apart from Newcastle United, nobody has offered #Chelsea-linked Ousmane Dembele a pre-contract ahead of a free transfer in the summer.
— Absolute Chelsea (@AbsoluteChelsea) January 20, 2022
( ) Chelsea made contacts with Dembele’s agent some weeks back, but NO bid as of yet. Newcastle United, on the other hand, have made a verbal proposal (for summer) – offering him a lot of money, but the player is yet to make a decision. @FabrizioRomano @twitch #Transfers
— Reshad Rahman ✆ (@ReshadRahman_) January 20, 2022