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Barcelona suggest Dembele has already agreed summer free transfer move as president Laporta left furious he didn't leave in January

13:12 IST 01/02/2022
Ousmane Dembele Barcelona
La Liga giants had been hoping to get a French forward off their books on January deadline day, but he continues to run down his contract at Camp Nou

Ousmane Dembele saw the January transfer window close without signing a new contract at Barcelona or sealing a move elsewhere, and club president Joan Laporta believes the Frenchman has a free transfer agreement lined up.

A World Cup-winning forward had plenty of suitors heading towards a winter recruitment deadline, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United and Chelsea all reported to have been closely monitoring his situation.

No sale was sanctioned, though, and with offers of fresh terms being knocked back, Barca are now being forced to keep an unsettled and unwanted asset on their books until the summer.

What has been said?

Delivering his take on a long-running saga that appears set to drop Dembele into a free agent pool, Laporta has told reporters: “We offered him the renewal, with a very good offer. Later it turned out that it was an economic issue, that he wanted more.

“We told him that he wanted to renew, but the issue became stuck. The agent took a position of not saying anything and that has consequences. We have done our best.

“We presented him with two proposals and they were good. We are very surprised that he did not accept. The last one was from an English club and he did not want to go, he preferred to stay here for six months.

“It is not good neither for him nor for the club, because his renewal gave us salary margin and we would not have been having to work until the last minute.

“The whole Dembele thing is difficult to understand. Xavi is working and has to think about next season. We think he has an agreement with another club. That's what his agent has insinuated to us. We will act for the good of the club.”

Any other business?

After reflecting on the disappointment of not getting a deal of any kind done with Dembele, Laporta confirmed that a move for Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was completed with “a minute left for the market to close” and that the Gabon international should be officially presented “at the end of the week”.

The Barca supremo, along with economic vice-president Eduard Romeu, also offered reporters an insight into the ongoing efforts of all of those at Camp Nou to clean up the financial mess left behind by former president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

“We have detected very dubious operations. All of them have been investigated. An agency investigated and found unwarranted and disproportionate payments,” Laporta said.

“What we don’t want is to be complicit in those actions that led Barca to a complicated situation. We have inherited an economic situation with astronomical debt and great losses.

“We show it because the Socios (club members) have the right to know what the former management did when they ran the club. We filed a complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office. We are here to explain further in detail.”

Romeu added: “When we arrived, we quickly found that we had no money and a lot of debts. There was even no money to pay salaries. In two years, Barca lost more than €600 million (£501m/$676m) and of only €135 million (£113m/$152m) of that corresponds to Covic-19.

“The salary bill is fundamental. We were 40% above our competitors and that was a completely unsustainable situation. To date, we have already saved €159m (£133m/$179m) from the club’s wage bill.

“The objective is to put the club in the best situation in the coming two years, and we are convinced of reversing the situation we find ourselves in.”

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