DEMBELE: As LOVE/HATE transfer saga is set to end, how did we get here?
The saga of Ousmane Dembele is coming, finally, to an end. The French forward has lived an odyssey for the last seven months, with his contract expiring and very little clues as to where he'd play his football in the future. Now, if the report are true, things will soon settle and very much in the way Dembele wants.
It all started gathering steam on December 2021. With Dembele entering the last six months of his contract, keeping him in the team was priority number one for Joan Laporta, who went out and said the Barcelona forward was "better than Mbappé".
However, with player and club going nowhere on the negotiation, the club higher ups changed their stance. "We've talked and talked, made various offers. We've tried to find a way but these offers have been systematically rejected by his agents. In this scenario he and his agents have been informed that he must leave immediately", said Barcelona sporting director Mateu Alemany back then.
But nothing materialised. No club in Europe was going to pay for a player that they could get free in six months time, and particularly not for one that wasn't putting out numbers to make it worthwhile. Laporta then came out and said in early February that Dembele would "never play for Barcelona again" as head coach Xavi needed to think "about the present and the future".
Xavi did indeed think, and kept Dembele close to the team as the Frenchman once again showed glimpses of what he could do. By early March, it was another Laporta once again: "Dembele knows our offer and knows that we always wanted him to stay. We hope he will think again at the end of the season". The Barcelona president was clear that "In football, you can never rule anything out".
However, the season ended and no news came about, until in early June rumour came out that Ousmane Dembele had snubbed PSG to move to Chelsea and play for Thomas Tuchel, his former coach at Borussia Dortmund. We'll never know whether there were any truth to those claims, whether the negotiation was indeed almost done only to fall at the last hurdle, but days of June came and went and nothing was confirmed.
Until news came of a meeting between Dembele and Xavi. The reports spoke of a lack of offers, and of a plea to the Barcelona manager for better terms. "Ousmane, you have had an offer from the club since December. Either you accept that offer or there is nothing to do", was Xavi's response. After meetings came and went it seemed like it was all to no avail, and as June turned to July, Dembele officialy left FC Barcelona to become a free agent.
Now, finally, a solution looks to be in the horizon. According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, Ousmane Dembele has agreed to a lowered wages as he wanted to stay in Barcelona. Once again, we'll never know if this comes out of true desire or a lack of real options, but it all points toward a conclusion to this months long saga. As reported, everything has been completed for Dembele to sign a two year contract to remain (or, techically, return) to Barcelona until 2024.
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