Ousmane Dembele has asked Barcelona to allow him to leave the club in the January transfer window, Goal understands, and his exit could help facilitate Neymar’s shock return.
The 21-year-old has struggled to adapt to life at Barca following his €105 million (£93m/$120m) move from Dortmund in 2017 and has now requested the board sanction a sale when the transfer window reopens in the winter.
As reported by Goal in October, the Liga champions were already looking at offloading Dembele and will be open to offers for the forward in January.
Ernesto Valverde’s side are planning to include Dembele in any potential deal for PSG forward Neymar, with the Catalan giants keen to bring back the Brazilian, who wants to push through a return to Camp Nou.
Indeed, preliminary discussions over an offer in the New Year for the 26-year-old that would include Dembele and a substantial cash fee have already taken place.
Premier League clubs are likely to also be interested in the latest developments regarding Dembele’s future, with press reports having linked Liverpool with a move for the World Cup winner.
There is, however, no concrete interest from Jurgen Klopp’s side at this stage, with Barca having confirmed that there has been no approach from Anfield for the player.
Dembele has seen his attitude called into question in recent weeks, with Spanish newspaper AS having reported that the Frenchman had missed a training session following an all-night video game session with friends.
His professionalism and diet have also been criticised – a source has previously told Goal about the presence of countless fast food cartons at his house, while he apparently threw away a healthy fish dish that had been prepared for him by his chef.
The forward was omitted from Barca’s matchday squad for the recent 4-3 defeat to Real Betis, although both his agent and club officials claimed that was due to illness, rather than a form of punishment.
Injuries haven’t helped Dembele’s attempts to properly settle into life at Camp Nou, with a serious hamstring problem having hampered his first season at the club.
The France international’s team-mates at Barca have offered their support to the 21-year-old in what is now his second season at the club, and he was even on the scoresheet in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.
That has not stopped him seeking an exit, however, and it now seems likely that, barring a turnaround in his and the club’s circumstances in the near future, he’ll be moved on in January.
Dembele has made seven starts in La Liga this season, his last coming in the 1-1 draw with Athletic at the end of September, and he has often had to play second fiddle to the likes of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho.