Chelsea are emerging as the leading candidates to sign Ousmane Dembele this month after his Barcelona contract impasse saw Xavi reach a dramatic decision.
The World Cup winner has six months left on his current Barca deal and his next move has been the subject of speculation for a while. In fact, he had links with a move to Newcastle immediately after their takeover in October.
But the situation has dragged on without a resolution. Barcelona have set Dembele and his camp several deadlines by which they wanted a decision, but no concrete updates have arrived.
That is, until this week. Indeed, Barcelona told Dembele on Monday that he has two days to make a final decision.
However, as per Sky Germany, the winger has stunned Xavi once again by repeating his astronomical €43m a year wage demands. And with that working out at £700,000 a week, it’s clearly far higher than cash-strapped Barcelona are willing to spend.
And according to Fabrizio Romano, Dembele has officially told those in power at Barcelona that he wants to leave the Nou Camp.
As such, Xavi is reported to have responded by removing Dembele from first-team training.
And the club have seemingly put the player instantly on the transfer list, telling him to leave before the end of the month.
“With Ousmane and his agents we started conversations around the month of July,” Barcelona academy director Mateu Alemany said.
“In all this time, almost seven months, we have talked, Barca has made different offers. We have tried to find a way for the player to continue with us and those offers have been continuously rejected by his agents.
Dembele not vested in Barcelona project
“It seems obvious to us that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona. He is not committed to Barca’s future project.
“We told him and his agents that he must leave the club immediately. Barcelona only want to have players committed to the project.
Barcelona want Dembele gone and Tuchel wants him at Chelsea
Ousmane Dembele has been told he is free to leave Barcelona as he hasn’t signed a nee contract and they want him gone this January with Chelsea interested
“We expect a transfer to take place before January 31. The sporting consequence is that we don’t want to have players who don’t want to be at Barca.
“The fact that he was not in the [squad] list for today is the consequence of this whole process. The coach has our full support, it’s a consistent attitude.”
Chelsea preparing Ousmane Dembele offer
Sky Germany now believe a lowly fee will tempt Barcelona to cash in on the winger.
And while Newcastle are among his suitors, the Daily Express claims a move to Chelsea looks most likely.
Citing transfer guru Pedro Almeida, the Blues are readying a bid of just £12.5m (€15m).
That remains an incredible low amount for a player who cost Barcelona a huge £135m just five years ago.
However, with Barcelona desperately trying to get rid, the player is there for Chelsea’s taking.
Ousmane Dembele is well known to Blues boss Thomas Tuchel having managed him at Borussia Dortmund.
Indeed, it was during their one season together at the Westfalonstadion that Dembele underlined his true potential.
And while that has failed to materialise at the Nou Camp, he will hope a reunion with his former boss at Stamford Bridge is the catalyst to reviving his career.