Barcelona face a dilemma over a key January transfer decision that could have an impact on Manchester United, according to a report.
The La Liga champions lost Ansu Fati to a meniscus injury in their win over Real Betis on Saturday. The starlet now faces five months on the sidelines.
It comes as a blow to Ronald Koeman’s side, and not just for its direct implications on the pitch. According to Diario Sport, it has left Barcelona with a big decision to make in January.
That decision will be about the future of Ousmane Dembele, whose prospects of first team football have been slim in recent years, due to injuries and other players being ahead of him in the pecking order.
The Frenchman only played in five La Liga games last season, and has started just three of their first seven matches this time around. In fact, the club were already thinking about letting him leave over the summer.
Manchester United were linked with a bid for the winger as an alternative to their main target Jadon Sancho. However, just like their pursuit of Sancho, they failed to get a deal over the line.
Whereas the Sancho deal fell through because of disagreements with the selling club rather than the player, it was the opposite for Dembele. The 23-year-old turned down the chance to move to Old Trafford on loan.
However, United have not given up hope of signing him, and may return with a fresh offer in January.
Now, though, Fati’s injury gives Barcelona a big decision to make. The report from Diario Sport (via Sport Witness) gives the details of their “dilemma”.
Dembele still on market in January?
Going into the weekend, it had been reported that Barca were open to selling Dembele in January. His contract expires in 2022 and there has been little progress about a renewal, so the Catalan club are eager to sell him while they can still fetch a decent price.
Given that they spent more than €100m to sign him from Borussia Dortmund three years ago, they are concerned that he could eventually leave for nothing.
However, the injury to Fati has opened up a place in the team for him to get more gametime. They could need Dembele’s services for the remainder of the season.
By then, though, he will have just one year left on his contract. That would see his asking price drop and would leave Barca in a “risky” position.
Therefore, Barca are still considering allowing him to leave in the winter transfer window. His sale would bring in much needed funds that they would otherwise miss out on.
The report states that Barcelona will only accept a “pure and simple transfer”. That would likely indicate that a loan move or swap deal is off the table.
But according to Mundo Deportivo, Man Utd and Juventus remain “persistent suitors” for the World Cup winner, so could make new bids in January.