Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is holding out hope that he can be reunited with contract rebel Ousmane Dembele in the Barcelona team.

Dembele has resisted calls to sign new terms to extend his contract, that runs out at the end of this season, and that stance has seen him exiled from matchday squads.

Barcelona were frustrated they could not sell Dembele in January, amid reported strong interest from Paris Saint-Germain, and they face losing him on a free transfer unless he can be persuaded to commit.

The 24-year-old French winger played with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season, and they remain close.

"I've got to tell you the truth, he's training really well," Aubameyang said at his Camp Nou presentation on Thursday.

"If anything, as a friend of Ousmane, I hope he and the club will find a solution.

"Knowing Ousmane as a player, he's a fantastic player of course. Like I said before, I hope that he finds an answer. This is something I can't decide."

Aubameyang joined the LaLiga giants after being released from his contract with Arsenal, agreeing a deal until June 2025 with an option to cut ties earlier, in June 2023. The deal includes a buy-out clause of €100million.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said Aubameyang had made "a sacrifice" to come to Barcelona, seemingly firming up the recent suggestion he has taken a pay cut.

"You know that once we have a more healthy financial situation, we will help you as you are helping Barca now," Laporta told Aubameyang.

The 32-year-old Barcelona new recruit fell out of favour with Arsenal manager, Mikel Arteta, resulting in him losing the captaincy at Emirates Stadium and being left out of recent squads.

Aubameyang was accused of failing to show the right level of commitment, and was punished for disciplinary breaches.

"He wasn't happy and that was it," said Aubameyang, when asked about Arteta. "I can't say anything else because that's what happened. I'm better this way.

"There were some complicated months. Sometimes football is like that. On my behalf, I never wanted to do anything bad, but OK, now I have to put this behind me."

The Gabon international added: "I'm very happy and very grateful to you, Mr President, for signing me. This is an honour for me to be here, to play for Barca, so I'm very happy.

"I hope to score an awful lot of goals for Barca. I've always had the dream to play in LaLiga. I think this is an incredible opportunity that I've dreamt of since I was a child.

"This is the opportunity of my life."

Manchester United's search for a new full-time manager continues.

Ralf Rangnick has been in interim charge at Old Trafford since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's dismissal in November.

English powerhouse United have failed to win any silverware since 2017

 

TOP STORY - MAN UTD CONFIDENT ON LANDING POCHETTINO

Manchester United have renewed confidence that they will land Paris Saint-Germain head coach Pochettino as their new boss, claims The Mirror.

The Argentine is understood to be United's number one candidate for the permanent role.

Footmercato claims Pochettino is tired of the constant criticism he has received at PSG and will not stay beyond this season.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City are on verge of tabling an offer to Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to make him one of the highest paid players in the Premier League, according to Todofichajes.

- The Sun reports that Arsenal are planning for a £180 million off-season spend, with Real Sociedad's Alexander Isak, Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Wolves' Ruben Neves among their targets. However, this is dependent on Arsenal finishing top four.

- Chelsea will open pre-contract agreement talks with Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele after he failed to make a deadline day move, claims Sky Sports. 

- Chelsea are also eyeing a move for Real Madrid defender Eder Militao as they plan for the departures of Andreas Christensen and Antonio Rudiger, according to AS.

- Juventus and Milan are leading the race to land Roma's Nicolo Zaniolo reports Sky Italia. Roma are looking to cash in Zaniolo in the off-season, with Tottenham also interested.

 

Dani Alves is the new signing to miss out on Barcelona's Europa League squad after the club confirmed his omission on Wednesday.

The Brazilian, who rejoined the Blaugrana in November, was finally registered for LaLiga duty at the start of January but will not feature for the club in their European campaign.

Alves was joined at the club by fellow new arrivals Ferran Torres, Adama Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in January, but only three would be permitted to be included in the Europa League squad.

UEFA regulations prohibit any more than three new additions to European squads after the January transfer window.

As such, Barca had more new signings than free spaces, with 38-year-old Alves ultimately the one left out.

Ousmane Dembele has been included, however, despite his contract stand-off seeing tensions rise at the club over the past few weeks.

President Joan Laporta openly suggested the situation might make it "more difficult" for Dembele to feature, though he did leave that up to the discretion of head coach Xavi.

Like Alves, young forwards Ez Abde and Ferran Jutgla were left out of the selection despite breaking into the first-team squad – neither were registered with UEFA at the start of the season, nor do either qualify as a homegrown Barca player, therefore would have been competing with the new signings for spaces in the squad.

Barca face Napoli in their Europa League knockout play-off, hosting them on February 17 before going to Naples a week later.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has said it is "amazing" to have Xavi as a coach after completing his move to Barcelona.

Aubameyang joined the LaLiga giants after being released from his contract with Arsenal, agreeing a contract until June 2025 with an option to cut ties earlier, in June 2023. It includes a buy-out clause of €100million.

The 32-year-old fell out with previous manager, Mikel Arteta, resulting in him losing the captaincy at the Emirates Stadium and being left out of recent squads.

Speaking to the club's official social media, Aubameyang spoke of his admiration for Xavi, a Barca legend and World Cup winner, saying: "I think that's amazing to have [Xavi] as a coach. He has been a fantastic player that everyone knows, and I'm sure that as a coach he will bring us something that we will learn, definitely."

The Gabon international also spoke of his pride in making the move to the Blaugrana, explaining that his main goal is to help them get back into the Champions League.

"I am very proud [to be here], especially because my family is Spanish as well from my mother's side so I'm just really proud and happy to be here," he said.

"My main goal is to help the team and to give everything I can to bring the team back in the Champions League. I am just happy to be here and I will try to give everything."

Another January signing was La Masia graduate Adama Traore, who joined on loan from Wolves.

However, at a media conference to present the winger, it was another wide forward already at the club who stole the headlines as for the second day in a row, Barca president Joan Laporta openly criticised Ousmane Dembele for not agreeing to a January move away from Camp Nou.

The club had been hoping to ship the France international out, with Paris Saint-Germain reportedly agreeing terms with Dembele over the weekend, but a move did not materialise.

Barca are still struggling financially as the club attempts to bounce back from previous years of mismanagement, and on Tuesday at another news conference to reveal details of the forensic review into financial irregularities by the previous regime, Laporta responded to questions on Dembele, saying he could not understand why the player had not left in January.

He followed this up with more comments on Wednesday, telling reporters: "Our [contract] offer [to Dembele] expired on December 20 and after that, there was no other proposal. We saw a lack of interest in renewing and accepting our offer which was really good. We tried to fix things but there were no options available."

Dembele, who played with Aubameyang at Borussia Dortmund, is out of contract in the summer, and Laporta has said it will be up to Xavi whether he plays for the club again, while also indicating his belief that the Frenchman - who has suffered numerous injuries since arriving in Spain - has been disappointing since his big money move in 2017.

"We have a player with a contract that expires in June and the player is at the disposal of the coach, so the coach is the one who will decide whether he plays or not," he added. "But Xavi is just as surprised as all of us that Dembele has not renewed his contract.

"We invested a lot of money and we wanted to see that investment on the ground more often, but we came out a little disappointed."

Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes Ousmane Dembele already has an agreement to join another club when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Speaking on Tuesday, Laporta gave details of the negotiations that took place to renew the winger's contract.

The 24-year-old was then told to find another club in the January transfer window after those talks broke down – he had been linked with a number of Premier League teams, as well as Paris Saint-Germain – but a move never materialised.

Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany told Dembele last week he must leave "immediately", which prompted the player to issue an angry riposte on social media.

Speaking at a news conference where Barca were outlining the details of the forensic review into financial irregularities by the previous regime, Laporta was asked about Dembele's situation.

"Ousmane said that the renewal offer was very good, then it was an economic issue," he explained. "And when we told him that it was already good enough, the agent took a position in not saying anything.

"Dembele wanted to accept a renewal. Then they wanted more and the issue got stuck. His agent didn't say anything and that has consequences. We've done everything possible and he hasn't accepted."

Dembele has struggled since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105million, and has suffered several injuries that have kept him from getting a sustained run in the team.

Laporta also revealed the player turned down an opportunity to sign for an unnamed English suitor and believes this was because he already has an agreement with another club for when his contract at the Camp Nou expires at the end of the current campaign.

"We are very surprised that he didn't accept the offer from the English club either, he prefers to stay here," Laporta said. "It's not good for him or for the club.

"What happened with Dembele is difficult to understand. He is now in the squad and Xavi must work on the present but also on the future.

"We think Dembele has an agreement with another club."

Barcelona signed three players in the January transfer window, registering the returning Dani Alves, along with Ferran Torres and the loan of Adama Traore, while it is also expected the club will announce Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on a free transfer imminently.

Laporta confirmed: "Aubameyang's documents entered with one minute to go before midnight."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's Arsenal career appears to be over.

The Gabon forward was in Barcelona on Monday and it appeared a move would be finalised before the end of the transfer window.

However, the deadline ticked by without official confirmation, but the transfer is expected to go through on Tuesday.

That would make him Barca's third signing of the Xavi era, after Ferran Torres and Adama Traore.

 

TOP STORY – AUBA TO JOIN XAVI AT CAMP NOU

Widespread reports claim that Arsenal and Barca have agreed to a rather strange deal for Aubameyang.

The 32-year-old has reportedly agreed to a six-month contract at Barca, with the option for a further year, with Arsenal seemingly agreeing to forego a transfer fee in order to get their former captain, who has not featured since December, off the books.

Aubameyang is essentially a free agent, so that allows the deal to be completed after the deadline passed.

ROUND-UP

- Fabio Carvalho's proposed deadline day move from Fulham to Liverpool did not come off, though The Times reports that the Reds are keen to sign the youngster on a pre-contract agreement. 

- Sky Sports reported that Arsenal will save up to £25million following Aubameyang's departure, which The Express claim will be used to fund Mikel Arteta's transfer dealings in the off-season.

- Bild has reported that Real Madrid have already tabled a pre-contract agreement for Kylian Mbappe, who they are hoping to sign from Paris Saint-Germain.

- Journalist Xavi Torres believes Barcelona will attempt to terminate Ousmane Dembele's contract. The France winger is set to leave on a free at the end of the season.

- West Ham failed in a last-ditch bid to sign striker Duvan Zapata from Atalanta, according to Sky Sports.

Arsenal cancelled Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's contract to pave the way for the striker to join Barcelona, while Ousmane Dembele remains at Camp Nou following an eventful transfer day across Europe.

Aubameyang had five months to run on his Emirates Stadium deal but was told he could join Barca on a free transfer, which is set to be announced by the LaLiga giants on Tuesday.

Despite some confirmed interest from at least one club in England, and the threat of not playing for the rest of the season, Dembele opted to stay put in Catalonia until at least the end of the season.

Those players were discussed heavily throughout deadline day, but arguably the most remarkable transfer happened early on Monday when Christian Eriksen officially joined Brentford.

It marks a return to the Premier League – and indeed a football pitch – for Eriksen, just seven months after suffering a cardiac arrest while playing for Denmark at Euro 2020 and subsequently being fitted with a heart-starting device.

Newcastle live up to big-spending billing

In their first transfer window under their new ownership, Newcastle United spent more than any side on the continent and rounded things off by bringing in some much-needed defensive options in Dan Burn and Matt Targett.

Boyhood Newcastle fan Burn joined from Brighton and Hove Albion in a reported £13million deal, while left-back Targett will spend the rest of the season at St James' Park on loan from Aston Villa.

But it was not all good news for the Magpies as they missed out on a deal for France Under-20s striker Hugo Ekitike, who is reported to have had second thoughts and decided to remain at Reims. There was also no move for Jesse Lingard.


Tottenham and Juventus the busiest clubs

Antonio Conte was backed by the Tottenham board on deadline day with the arrivals of Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski as part of a double deal with Juventus.

Bentancur is reported to have cost Spurs an initial £15.9m (€19m) on a deal that will run through until the end of the 2025-26 season, and he will be joined in north London by Kulusevski on an initial 18-month loan with the option to buy.

It was not all about incoming activity for Tottenham in the final stages of the window, though, as club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele was returned to Lyon for the rest of the season and Bryan Gil and Giovanni Lo Celso were loaned out to LaLiga sides Valencia and Villarreal respectively.

And in a deal that went through more than an hour after the 23:00 GMT cut-off point, Dele Alli joined Everton in a transfer that could potentially earn Spurs £40m should various clauses be triggered.

Having offloaded Bentancur and Kulusevski, meanwhile, Juve further trimmed their squad by allowing Aaron Ramsey to sign for Rangers until the end of the campaign, with those deals offset by the arrival of Denis Zakaria from Borussia Monchengladbach.


Big boys quiet

Manchester City got a deal over the line for Argentina international Julian Alvarez before loaning the young forward straight back to River Plate, but it was otherwise a relatively quiet day for Europe's elite clubs.

Manchester United's only piece of business on Monday was allowing midfield outcast Donny van de Beek join Everton on loan, while Liverpool let Nat Phillips head to Bournemouth for the rest of 2021-22. The second-tier Cherries also signed Todd Cantwell, recently a target for Liverpool, to bolster their promotion ambitions.

Liverpool had hoped to bring in highly rated youngster Fabio Carvalho from Fulham, but a deal is reported to have fallen through shortly before the cut-off point after terms had already been agreed.

There was no such activity for fellow Premier League heavyweights Chelsea, as was the case for the likes of Paris Saint-Germain – despite links with Dembele – Bayern Munich, Inter, Milan and Real Madrid.

But reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid did manage to strengthen at left-back by bringing in Reinildo Mandava from French champions Lille.


Other notable deals...

Unsurprisingly, Premier League clubs flexed their financial muscles in a final attempt to strengthen before the deadline.

Crystal Palace turned striker Jean-Philippe Mateta's loan from Mainz into a permanent deal and Burnley signed Wout Weghorst from Wolfsburg, who moved quickly to bring in FC Copenhagen striker Jonas Wind as a replacement.

Elsewhere, Deniz Undav put pen to paper with Brighton before being loaned back to Belgian side Royale Union Saint-Gilloise. The Seagulls also signed Benicio Baker-Boaitey on loan from Porto with a view to a permanent move.

Ousmane Dembele's future at Barcelona has been uncertain for months.

The 24-year-old has stalled on a new deal with the Catalans.

Dembele has attracted interest from several top clubs, meaning his signature looms for deadline day.

TOP STORY – MAN UTD TO HIJACK PSG'S DEMBELE MOVE

Manchester United are set to make a deadline-day move for Barcelona's Dembele, according to Footmercato.

The Red Devils could hijack Paris Saint-Germain's plans, with the Ligue 1 club having already verbally agreed to a deal with the French winger.

United are ready to move, with Anthony Martial loaned out and Donny van de Beek and Jesse Lingard also set to exit.

 

ROUND-UP

- Arsenal outcast Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has agreed to a deal to join Barcelona, according to Sport, but Dembele must exit the Catalans to enable the move to be completed.

- Real Madrid have opted against a January move for Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, claims Diario Sport, due to their €80m asking price.

- Talksport claims that Tottenham's Giovani Lo Celso will join Spanish club Villarreal on loan for the rest of the season. Lyon were also interested in the Argentina international.

- Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches has opted against a €25 million move from Lille to Milan, according to Calciomercato.

- Newcastle United's January spending is not over as the club eyes deadline-day deals for Aston Villa's Matt Targett and Arsenal's Eddie Nketiah, reports The Telegraph.

- Newcastle are set to land Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan, claims Talksport.

- Struggling Spanish club Getafe are interested in free agent Diego Costa, according to Marca.

- Dele Alli could join Milan on loan from Tottenham, reports Gazzetta dello Sport.

Erling Haaland remains tight-lipped on his plans for his future.

The 21-year-old Norway forward has drawn widespread interest after two outstanding years at Borussia Dortmund.

Haaland appears destined to exit BVB later this year but has a decision to make.

TOP STORY – BARCELONA LOOMS AS HAALAND'S PREFERRED MOVE

Haaland is holding off on a decision on his club future to see if Barcelona can raise the required €360million to put together a package for the striker, reports the Daily Star.

The report claims Borussia Dortmund representatives believe Barcelona is Haaland's preferred destination.

The 21-year-old also has interest from Manchester City, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea .

 

ROUND-UP

- CBS Sports claims Saudi Arabia's  Al Nassr  have lodged a final bid for Arsenal outcast  Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang , with the deal matching his Gunners salary and including a break clause after 12 months that would allow him to return to Europe. Gerard Romero claims  Barcelona have reached an agreement with Arsenal to sign Aubameyang, although the Blaugrana must offload Ousmane Dembele  first.

- Atletico Madrid are unwilling to allow Alvaro Morata to join rivals Barcelona ,   claims Sport. Morata is on loan at Juventus from Atletico amid talk of a switch to the Blaugrana, with Arsenal , Newcastle United and Tottenham also linked to the Spain striker.

Dejan Kulusevski  is set to be loaned from Juventus to  Tottenham ,   with the two clubs in advanced talks on a deal, according to Fabrizio Romano. The deal would include an option to buy.

- The Daily Star reports likely new Everton manager Frank Lampard will block  Dominic Calvert-Lewin 's proposed move to  Arsenal .

- Goal claims top-four hopefuls  West Ham  have made dual bids for Leeds United pair  Kalvin Phillips  and  Raphinha . The Sun claims the Hammers' bid for Phillips is worth £50m.

Dusan Vlahovic has drawn interest from Juventus, Arsenal and Tottenham among others.

The 21-year-old has 18 months remaining on his contract and Fiorentina are keen to maximise their profit on him.

Vlahovic has netted 38 goals in the past 18 months in Serie A.

TOP STORY – FRESH TALKS ON VLAHOVIC DEAL

Juventus are set for fresh talks on Thursday on a deal to sign Fiorentina's Vlahovic, reports Fabrizio Romano.

The Serbia striker has attracted plenty of interest but an agreement between the Bianconeri and Fiorentina is in place.

The stumbling block is Vlahovic's final contract and agent's fees, with a deal potentially set to trigger Alvaro Morata's exit to Barcelona, although Romano claims there are no new talks on that.

 

ROUND-UP

- Goal claims that Barcelona are working on a plan to raise €100million (£83m) in funds to lure Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland to the Catalan club. The Blaugrana are determined to win the race to sign Haaland despite interest from wealthy giants Real MadridManchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

- Bayern Munich's 32-year-old forward Thomas Muller has drawn interest from Newcastle United and Everton as he approaches the final year of his contract, claims Sport Bild.

- L'Equipe claims that Bruno Guimaraes had told Lyon he wants to join Newcastle after the Magpies tabled a bid.

- The Sun reports that Manchester United have put their search for a new manager on hold as they consider whether to make Ralf Rangnick's stay permanent.

- Staying at United, numerous reports in England suggest Jesse Lingard is angry with the club as their demands have put off Newcastle's attempt to sign the player on loan.

- Ousmane Dembele wants to stay at Barcelona after all, according to Sport. The France international's representatives met with Barca boss Xavi this week.

- Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele is set to join Valencia on loan, reports Telefoot.

Xavi has told Ousmane Dembele to stop prevaricating and either sign a new Barcelona deal or find another club by the end of January.

According to Xavi, there is "no alternative" for the French forward, who has entered the final six months of his contract at Camp Nou.

Dembele has struggled since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105million, and this month's transfer window could be a final chance for the club to recoup some of that outlay.

Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany told Dembele this week he must leave "immediately", which prompted the 24-year-old to issue an angry riposte on social media.

"I am not a man who cheats and even less a man who has a habit of giving in to blackmail," Dembele wrote.

Barcelona are fed up and want a resolution one way or the other, with Xavi seemingly willing to keep Dembele and let this storm pass if he agrees to extend his contract before the end of the month.

"Ousmane's situation hasn't changed," said Xavi on Saturday. "He has to decide. He is training well, but he knows his situation perfectly. There is no more debate, I think I was clear. It depends on him now. There are still days left and there is no alternative."

 

The situation is one that Barcelona could do without as they reel from a Copa del Rey exit at Athletic Bilbao's hands, and the crushing blow of losing teenage forward Ansu Fati yet again to a hamstring injury.

Fati could be out of action for months after the substitute was substituted during the Bilbao game, seemingly in tears as he left the pitch.

Xavi said the plan, agreed with club doctor Ricard Pruna, was for Fati to play for half an hour, so when the cup game went to extra time it conflicted with Barca's intentions.

Fati, who entered the game just after the hour mark, came off injured in the 96th minute, an apparent recurrence of the problem that had recently kept him out for two months.

"Ansu is very affected," said Xavi.

On Monday, a meeting will take place to decide on the next course of action, with Barca reportedly keen for Fati to go down the route of surgery.

"It is a relapse," Xavi said. "Pruna told me that he was to play for half an hour and extra time disrupted our plans. We are going to make a specific plan for him. On Monday we will have a meeting to decide what to do. 

"I'm not a doctor, but we have to mentally allow him to recover. [We need to] let him forget about the injuries and make a specific plan. We have lost an impressive footballer and it affects us all, but he is the main victim. We must do an exhaustive follow-up so that he does not injure himself more.

"It's a shame. We are sad because we have tried to take good care of him and he has been injured again. This is part of football. We are suffering major setbacks and this is very serious."

Fati previously spent 10 months on the sidelines due to a serious knee injury, resuming his Barcelona career in September this season.

Despite his limited action, Fati is Barcelona's second-highest scorer in 2021-22 with five goals. They have come in just 456 minutes of on-pitch action, with Fati out-performing his expected goals (xG) score of 1.92.

On Sunday, Barca travel to face Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga, with Fati definitively ruled out and Dembele also expected to be sidelined by the club.

Alaves have not won any of their last 10 LaLiga games against Barcelona (D2 L8), conceding 3.1 goals on average in these matches.

Barcelona have avoided defeat in their last seven away LaLiga games against Alaves (W4 D3), keeping a clean sheet in six of them. This is their longest unbeaten run at Mendizorrotza in the top flight, but this season's Barcelona are a different proposition, with the loss of Lionel Messi and to a lesser extent Antoine Griezmann meaning they lack presence on the road.

Indeed, Barcelona have won only two of their last 10 away games in LaLiga (D6 L2), beating Villarreal in November and Mallorca earlier this month. That follows a run of 12 wins from their previous 14 away games in the competition (D1 L1).

The likes of Sergio Busquets have come in for flak from supporters of the club, and Xavi says the veteran members of the team must justify their selection.

"The shots go towards the sacred cows, and they have to understand it," Xavi said. "The commitment of the veterans is spectacular, unquestionable, but now it depends on the performance. Until recently we didn't have many alternatives."

The former Al Sadd coach said he remains "optimistic" about Barcelona's prospects, and said there could be additions to his squad before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

"We are working on it, in several areas," he said.

Thomas Tuchel has spoken of his admiration for Ousmane Dembele amid reports the Barcelona outcast could be a transfer target for Chelsea.

Dembele looks to be on his way out of Barca due to a contract stand-off that has turned sour.

The France winger warned the Catalan giants that he would not be "giving in to any blackmail" after Barca director Mateu Alemany ordered him to find a new club "immediately".

Dembele is only under contract with the Blaugrana until the end of the season and Alemany declared he expects the 24-year-old to move on before the transfer window closes at the of this month as "we want to have players committed to the project."

Tuchel saw Dembele's talent first-hand when he played under the Blues boss at Borussia Dortmund in the 2016-17 season before the former Rennes man joined Barca for an initial fee of €105million.

 

The Barca contract rebel's chances created per game average of 2.36 this season is better than any of the Chelsea squad who can play in the same position, while his dribbles completed (6.69) also compares favourably.

Dembele has also had more shots per game (4.46) and made more crosses from open play (6.69) than the likes of Hakim Ziyech, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic.

And while Tuchel stopped short of declaring his interest in his former player, the Chelsea head coach is well aware of what he is capable of.

"He is a very good player when he is at his top level," Tuchel said. "I am very fortunate to have trained him in my time at Dortmund.

"It was only one year; it should have been longer. I needed to leave and he decided to leave. From there we are not in closest contact.

"We met here and there because of his duties for the French national team and of course I was in Paris so this was more or less when they were preparing for national duties."

Chelsea face a big Premier League derby with Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Ousmane Dembele's future with Barcelona has been unclear for months.

The 24-year-old has snubbed a fresh contract extension offer at Barca.

On Thursday, it was confirmed the Blaugrana have subsequently put him up for sale in January.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA READY FOR DEMBELE MOVE

Chelsea are ready to make a January move for Barcelona's Dembele, claims The Sun.

France winger Dembele is out of contract at the end of this season and Barca now want him to leave this month.

Chelsea have interest in Dembele, although it is unclear if they want to sign him on loan or permanently.

 

ROUND-UP

- Roma are prepared to offer Jordan Veretout in exchange for Tottenham's Tanguy Ndombele, reports Gianluca Di Marzio. Goal and The Athletic claim that Paris Saint-Germain  are in talks with Spurs and Ndombele over a loan move.

- The Telegraph claims Tottenham are ready to make a January swoop for Milan's Franck Kessie, whose contract expires at the end of this season.

- Sevilla are still keen to sign Manchester United forward Anthony Martial on loan, according to Marca. The Spanish club had an initial offer rejected and could move for Lyon's Moussa Dembele as an alternative.

- Real Betis want to sign Manchester City full-back Oleksandr Zinchenko this month, with the lure of regular football, claims The Sun.

- Crystal Palace have pulled out of the race to sign Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey, reports the Daily Mail. Ramsey has had interest from Newcastle United, Wolves and Burnley.

Ousmane Dembele has reacted with fury after Barcelona director of football Mateu Alemany ordered the winger to find a new club "immediately".

French winger Dembele has struggled at Camp Nou since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 for an initial €105million.

A string of injury setbacks have hampered his progress, although Barca head coach Xavi recently claimed Dembele could become the "best in the world" in his position.

Dembele's contract runs until the end of the season, meaning this month's transfer window could be the last opportunity for the club to get back any money on their investment.

Barcelona do not want to lose such an expensive signing on a free transfer, and to that end they have been looking to extend his deal, but Alemany said all offers to Dembele "have been continuously rejected by his agents".

Alemany added, speaking to Barca TV on Thursday: "It seems obvious that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona and is not committed to our future project."

This has incensed Dembele, with Alemany going on to say: "We told him and his agents that he must leave the club immediately because we want to have players committed to the project. We expect a transfer to take place before January 31."

Dembele has been linked with clubs including Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain and Newcastle.

Responding to Barcelona's stance, Dembele issued a long statement on Instagram, saying he would not be "giving in to any blackmail".

The 24-year-old said he had put up with four years of reading lies about himself, declaring that claims had been made "with the sole purpose of harming me". He said it had been a mistake that he had not spoken out sooner.

"From today, I will answer with sincerity and without giving in to any blackmail," Dembele wrote. "I am 24 years old and like any man, I have faults, imperfections. I have known complex moments, injuries, I have been affected by COVID. Without any training, the coach called on me and I always answered present... without batting an eyelid.

"I appreciate the chance to do the best job in the world. Furthermore, my message is clear. I forbid anyone to pretend that I am not involved in the sports project. I forbid anyone to attribute to me intentions that I never had. I forbid anyone to speak in my place, [or] in place of my agent in whom I have complete confidence.

"Still under contract, I am fully concerned and at the disposal of my club, my coach. I have always given my all for my team-mates as well as for all the supporters... and this won't stop now."

Xavi has also told Dembele to sign or be sold, and the player who was acquired after the big-money departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain may have kicked his last ball for Barcelona. He was left out of the squad for Thursday's Copa del Rey last-16 tie with Athletic Bilbao.

Former Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann responded with fire and heart emojis to Dembele's passionate statement.

"I am not a man who cheats and even less a man who has a habit of giving in to blackmail," Dembele added.

"As you know, there are negotiations. I let my agent take care of this, it is his field. My field is football, simply playing football, sharing moments of joy with my team-mates, with our supporters. Above all, let's focus on the essentials: WINNING."

Ousmane Dembele's Barcelona career appears to be drawing to a close, with the club's director of football Mateu Alemany confirming on Thursday that he is up for sale.

Dembele's representatives have been in talks with Barca since July over a new contract for a player that arrived at Camp Nou in 2017 in the wake of Neymar's departure to Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca splashed the cash – €105million, to be exact – to bring the winger in from Borussia Dortmund, where he had enjoyed a wonderful campaign in 2016-17 after a move from Rennes.

Despite Xavi wanting to keep the player, an agreement between the club and Dembele's camp has not been reached and the stand-off has now resulted in Alemany publicly stating the France international will no longer play for Barca now he has turned down their latest offer.

 

Dembele has struggled to establish himself as a key player at Barca due to injuries and some reported attitude issues, albeit he has hardly been at Camp Nou during the most stable period.

He has managed 31 goals and 22 assists in 129 appearances since his debut in September 2017, meaning he has been directly involved in 0.63 goals per 90 minutes, but he has played in just 52 per cent of Barca's LaLiga matches in that time.

Barca's plan is to move Dembele on now but, with his contract up at the end of the season, potential suitors may wish to bide their time and sign the attacker on a free transfer.

Stats Perform explores some possible destinations.

Liverpool

Could a move to Anfield be on the cards for Dembele? He has often been linked with Liverpool in the past, and Jurgen Klopp's direct approach could well suit a player that performed so well in the Bundesliga – a competition renowned for aggressive pressing and counter-attacks, which the Reds have down to a tee in the Premier League.

There is the small matter, of course, of Mohamed Salah. Arguably the best player in the world at the moment, the Egypt star plays predominantly from the right, in Dembele's preferred position. However, there is uncertainty over Salah's future, with a new contract not yet agreed. His deal runs out in 2023 and Dembele could present an ideal rotation option and eventual successor. Klopp would surely back himself to get the best out of the 24-year-old.

 

PSG

A team reported to hold a firm interest is Ligue 1 giants PSG. It would be ironic should Dembele – the man signed by Barca to replace Neymar – ended up playing alongside the Brazil star in Paris.

PSG already, of course, have a star-studded attack. But with Kylian Mbappe expected to leave at the end of the season and Lionel Messi, Neymar and Angel Di Maria not getting any younger, Dembele could provide a relatively cost-effective replacement, and a return to France might reignite his career.

Bayern Munich

Or could a move back to the Bundesliga be the trick for Dembele? Bayern Munich have plenty of top-quality wing options, with Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman, who has just signed a new long-term deal, complimented by youngster Jamal Musiala. Yet in all competitions this season, Dembele has created 2.4 chances per 90 minutes played, and that is better than any of Bayern's current wingers other than Sane (2.6).

His 6.7 dribbles attempted per 90 ranks behind only Musiala (7.8) and he leads the way in shots (4.5). Most important, perhaps, is Dembele's tendency to cross. He has delivered 6.7 open-play crosses per 90 in 2021-22, exactly two more than Bayern's best wide player in this metric (Coman - 4.7), something that Robert Lewandowski would surely relish.

Borussia Dortmund

This may seem an unlikely move, but what about heading back to Dortmund? Dembele was a superstar at Signal Iduna Park in his first spell there, although fans did not take kindly to his wish to leave, and that may well mean this would not get off the ground.

But, putting any negative emotions to one side, Dortmund have a vibrant attack under Marco Rose, though are likely to lose Erling Haaland in the close-season. While Dembele's wages might be an issue right now, should he remain at Barca for the rest of the season, could Dortmund use funds generated from a possible Haaland sale to bring back a player who played a direct hand in 30 goals (10 goals, 20 assists) and created 100 chances across all competitions in 2016-17.

 

Juventus

Another elite club that could provide a new lease of life for Dembele is Juve. The Serie A giants are not involved in the title race this season, at least according to their coach Massimiliano Allegri, though he will know the Bianconeri nevertheless must challenge for silverware in Europe or in the Coppa Italia. 

Dembele could provide the spark that is missing in Juve's attack, especially with Federico Chiesa expected to miss at least six months with a serious knee injury, while Dejan Kulusevski has been rumoured to be on the transfer list.

Newcastle United

One of these clubs is not like the others but, given their new-found wealth – and, perhaps, the need to make a real statement signing – maybe it would be foolish to discount Newcastle.

Whether Dembele would fancy swapping Barcelona for the north east of England and a Premier League relegation battle in January is of course up for debate, though what would not be up for debate is Newcastle, with their Saudi Arabia-backed ownership, having the funds to pull such a signing off.

Dembele would represent a step up in quality and would surely be an instant fans' favourite at St James' Park and alongside Allan Saint-Maximin on the other flank, provide some added star power to help Newcastle survive and, possibly, thrive in future seasons.

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