Barcelona have given an ultimatum to winger Ousmane Dembele, telling him that he must decide whether to remain with the club by signing a new contract or leave before 30 June.
The French World Cup winner’s current agreement expires on that date, and for months it had seemed certain that he would be leaving Camp Nou, having first signed for the Blaugrana from Borussia Dortmund in 2017.
But concrete proposals from other clubs have yet to materialise, leaving both the club and Dembele open to a potential renewal according to Spanish outlet Sport.
Dembele has had an offer on the table from his current club for months, but has repeatedly insisted that he wants a higher weekly wage.
For their part, Barcelona have repeatedly told Dembele that they will not be upping their offer, according to the report. But manager Xavi Hernandez is keen for Dembele to stay, and would prefer to use the money Barcelona would have to spend on a replacement on signing centre-back Jules Kounde from La Liga rivals Sevilla.
Leeds United winger Raphinha and out-of-contract former Paris Saint-Germain player Angel di Maria are the alternatives if Dembele does decide to move on, but both sides’ willingness to find an agreement means approaching neither player is the most likely outcome.
If Dembele is to leave, Sport claims that Barcelona want to know before this Thursday so that they can withdraw their offer and make a public announcement before the player’s entourage has a change to beat them to it.
This could be a busy week for the Catalan club, who are set to confirm the free transfer arrivals of AC Milan’s Ivorian central midfielder Franck Kessie and Chelsea’s Danish defender Andreas Christensen.
Barcelona are also targeting Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, who could be available for a cut-price free thanks to having only one year left on his current contract, and Sadio Mane’s transfer from Liverpool to Bavaria could help push that deal along.
Dembele had been linked with moves to Chelsea and Manchester United, but those clubs’ respective approaches for forwards Raheem Sterling and Antony appear to have put an end to the possibility of a Premier League switch.
For more stories like this, check our sport page.