Barcelona seething with Dembélé and Umtiti
Ousmane Dembélé’s refusal to leave prevented Barça from bringing in Memphis Depay, while a move for Eric García foundered amid an inability to shift Samuel Umtiti.
Barcelona are furious with Ousmane Dembélé. The winger’s refusal to leave, despite having offers from suitors such as Manchester United, prevented the Camp Nou club from bringing in Memphis Depay before the close of the summer transfer window on Monday night.
Depay deal scuppered as Dembélé refuses to move
Dembélé dug his heels in and was unmoved by head coach Ronald Koeman telling him that he is behind Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Francisco Trincão and Pedri in the attacking pecking order.
In addition to the evident lack of sporting ambition that comes with accepting a role as seventh choice in Koeman’s plans, Barça are particularly unhappy that Dembélé flatly refused the club’s pleas for his cooperation, after putting up with three years of lateness, ill discipline and, above all else, serious injuries.
All the while, he has picked up his wages week in, week out and has had top medical specialists at his disposal to little effect. Barça sought to explain to the Frenchman that his departure would allow them to finance the arrival of Depay, but their request fell on deaf ears.
Barcelona also unable to get Umtiti off wage bill
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu left the offices at the Blaugrana’s training ground at 00:30 on Tuesday morning with renewed black marks on his management of the club. He was unable to bring in either Depay or Eric García, having been unsuccessful in persuading not only Dembélé to leave the club, but also Samuel Umtiti.
Dembélé and Umtiti are players Bartomeu has admitted are at the centre of two major errors of judgement in his stewardship. Firstly, paying 105 million euros - plus 40 million in add-ons - for a highly injury-prone player who, on top of that, has behaved immaturely on and off the pitch and has shown little desire to turn his Camp Nou career around. And secondly, handing Umtiti an improved deal in 2018 despite the advice of Barcelona’s medical staff, who warned against renewing the defender’s contract because of his knee issues.
Umtiti had offers to leave this summer - a departure that would have freed up funds for the signing of Manchester City centre-back García - and director Ramon Planes revealed during Sergiño Dest’s unveiling that the club were looking to resolve the 26-year-old’s future. However, they were unable to shift the player.
Club eyeing January bid to offload Dembélé, Umtiti
It will now be interesting to see how Koeman manages Dembélé and Umtiti. The latter will be the Dutchman’s fourth-choice centre-back and, fitness permitting, may well be needed from time to time. Dembélé faces an uphill battle to get game time, meanwhile, with Barça B youngster Konrad de la Fuente possibly also ahead of him in the coach’s thinking at the moment.
Barça are likely to make a fresh attempt to offload the pair in January. However, with Bartomeu currently facing a vote of no confidence, a change of regime - and, potentially, coaching staff - could have altered their circumstances by the time the mid-season transfer window comes around.