Who is most likely to sign Barcelona's Dembélé?
Need a forward? Signed for €105million in 2017, Ousmane Dembélé has never lived up to his promise at Barça and is now set to leave the club.
Ousmane Dembélé'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.
Where next for Dembélé?
Dembélé's representatives have been in talks with Barça 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.
Barça 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 Dembélé'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 Barça now he has turned down their latest offer.
Dembélé has struggled to establish himself as a key player at Barça 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 Barça's LaLiga matches in that time.
Barça's plan is to move Dembélé 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.
Could a move to Anfield be on the cards for Dembélé? 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 Dembélé'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 Dembélé could present an ideal rotation option and eventual successor. Klopp would surely back himself to get the best out of the 24-year-old.
A team reported to hold a firm interest is Ligue 1 giants PSG. It would be ironic should Dembélé – the man signed by Barça 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, Dembélé could provide a relatively cost-effective replacement, and a return to France might reignite his career.
Or could a move back to the Bundesliga be the trick for Dembélé? 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, Dembélé 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 Dembélé'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.
This may seem an unlikely move, but what about heading back to Dortmund? Dembélé 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 Dembélé's wages might be an issue right now, should he remain at Barça 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.
Another elite club that could provide a new lease of life for Dembélé 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.
Dembélé 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.
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 Dembélé 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.
Dembélé 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.