Barcelona have reopened talks with Ousmane Dembele over a contract extension, with sources confirming to ESPN that sporting director Mateu Alemany is meeting with the forward’s agent, Moussa Sissoko, in Morocco this week.
Alemany arrived in Marrakech on Monday and will remain there until Tuesday to negotiate a potential new deal for Dembele, whose current terms are due to expire at the end of June.
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Speaking on Sunday, Alemany had hinted that Barca had changed their stance on Dembele, who they had told to find a new club as recently as January.
“For us, he can stay as long as [any agreement] remains within the club’s sustainable salary limit and is proportionate to his teammates, “Alemany said ahead of Barca’s 1-0 win over Sevilla, which saw them climb to second in LaLiga.
It marks a remarkable turnaround from three months ago, when Dembele was left out of Barca’s squad for back-to-back matches and notified that he should find a new club before the end of the January transfer window.
At the time, president Joan Laporta insinuated that he believed Dembele had signed a pre-contract agreement with another club, with Paris Saint-Germain and a host of English clubs all linked with the French international.
However, sources close to the player have always maintained that not to be the case, even suggesting that Dembele’s priority has always been to remain at Camp Nou.
Barca coach Xavi Hernandez has played a key role in the changing circumstances. He restored Dembele to the side in January, despite other voices within the club preferring to leave him in the stands as his contract runs down.
Dembele has responded on the pitch, with one goal and eight assists in his last 10 appearances for Barca in all competitions. That has ensured that he is no longer whistled by his own supporters, as was the case when he first returned to the side in February due to the stalemate over his contract.
Sources explain that Xavi has been impressed by Dembele’s work ethic, given previous reports suggesting a lack of professionalism, and has been pushing behind the scenes for the club to extend his terms.
When negotiations broke down in January, there was a big difference between what the club was offering and what the player’s camp was asking for. Barca hope this week’s meeting will serve to close the gap.
Meanwhile, Barca will also meet with defender Ronald Araujo’s camp in the coming days, as first reported by ESPN last month.
Araujo, 23, is out of contract in 2023 and sources have told ESPN he has bigger offers on the table from Premier League sides Manchester United and Liverpool, but he says his preference is to remain at Barca.
“We are working on [a new deal]”the Uruguay international told reporters after the Sevilla game.” There are [more] meetings this week and I hope it’s resolved soon because I want to stay at this club for many years. “