Xavi has told Ousmane Dembele that he must sign a new contract at Barcelona or he will be sold before the January transfer window closes.
Dembele has spent the last four and a half seasons at the Camp Nou, having initially joined the club from Borussia Dortmund for a whopping $164m in 2017, but now has just six months left on his contract.
Barcelona have been trying to tie up the 24-year-old for several months but there is no sign of a final deal being reached, and now Xavi has warned the winger that he is running out of time to make a decision. Dembélé reportedly turned down several contract offers, frustrating the club’s hierarchy.
Dembélé has been linked with Chelsea and Bayern Munich among a host of other top European clubs, with his current manager admitting a winter transfer is a possibility.
What did Xavi say about Dembélé?
During his press conference ahead of Thurdsay’s Copa del Rey match against Athletic, Barcelona manager Xavi pulled no punches, giving Dembélé two options for his future: stay or go. Now.
“The message is clear,” said Xavi. “Ousmane Dembele has to sign a new contract or we will find a way to sell him in January. No other way. What I can say is that we are making a difficult decision. If he does not renew, the club has decided that he will make a decision. We have waited a long time, we have been in talks with him for five months. Either it is renewed or a solution is sought.”
The firm message from the coach leaves Dembélé with a very short window to settle his future, with the winter transfer window closing on January 31.
“I have been very honest with him, it is not an easy situation. All or nothing. We feel bad, but the first thing is the interests of the club. It is not contemplated that he stays in the stands. of course with Ousmane”.
Xavi responds to Dembélé’s agent
Dembélé’s agent Moussa Sissoko added further fuel to ongoing transfer rumors by questioning the way Barca have treated his client since his return from the coronavirus-enforced quarantine.
“Everyone talks about money. But it’s not just money for us,” sissoko said earlier this month. “Management with the player on a day-to-day basis is also very important. How can he play right after contracting Covid without even training?
Xavi has now issued a response to Dembélé’s agent, insisting that the Frenchman has never expressed any unhappiness or desire to leave.
“I also wonder about the agent speaking as he is and Dembélé, on the other hand, telling me that he wants to stay. I can’t understand,” he added, giving credence to the possibility that Dembélé could still stay at Barcelona.
How has Dembélé behaved in 2021-22?
Dembélé has missed 16 games through injury this season, missing two games while recovering from COVID-19. That has left the Frenchman with just 684 minutes in 11 appearances this season in all competitions, including just six La Liga appearances.
Fitness issues have dogged the former Dortmund star during his time at Barca, and he has struggled to rediscover his best form since returning to action after the Christmas break.
Dembélé has only managed to register one goal and two assists in all competitions, with a Copa del Rey round of 16 clash against Athletic Club next Thursday.