The future of Ousmane Dembele – who has drawn links with a host of Premier League sides including Manchester United – has been hinted at by Barcelona boss Xavi.
The French forward, 24, is in the final year of his contract at the Camp Nou. Barcelona are in desperately short supply of proven firepower at present. Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann departed in the summer. The recent retirement of Sergio Aguero deprived them of yet more strike power in the final third.
As such, the potential January exit of Dembele had become a major talking point for Barcelona and new boss Xavi.
Come January 1, Dembele will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs ahead of a summer switch. Alternatively, a suitor could propose a January transfer to beat rivals to his signature – something Barca were reportedly open to sanctioning.
England’s elite had all been linked with Dembele over the last few months. Liverpool’s interest made the most sense with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane facing up to a month away on AFCON duty.
United couldn’t be discounted from the race after Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo revealed Ralf Rangnick’s intention to make Dembele his first signing. They stated contact from United had been made with Dembele’s agent. However, the strong competition in the Red Devils’ attack was a potential deterrent.
Now, Xavi has provided an update on Dembele’s status with the winter window just a fortnight away.
In doing so, he raised hope Dembele will snub all offers and pen fresh terms. However, he admitted the player’s agent will first need to be reasoned with.
Dembele “wants to continue” at Barcelona – Xavi
“I feel positive with him again,” said Xavi (via BarcaUniversal).
“Ousmane says that he wants to continue, that he is happy here.
“It is a matter of agreeing with his representative. He knows about the importance he will have if he stays.”
Dembele’s agent was speculated in October to be the driving force behind his client’s exit rumours. Mundo Deportivo described the agent as ‘brainwashing’ Dembele into believing a move away was in his best interest.
Xavi’s comments suggest Dembele is now on board…