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Barcelona's Dembélé stance is spiteful and counterproductive


With the transfer window now shut, Barcelona have signed Ferran Torres, Adam Traoré and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. I won’t include Dani Alves in that group, because he was signed up beforehand on a low-wage deal that’s in his interests, because it’ll help him make it to the Qatar World Cup. The other three are all attackers. Three additions to the forward line and none to the defence, where Barça were in need of a left-back. The odd centre-back, too; but since the club had to renew Samuel Umtiti’s contract to reduce his wages between now and June… He and Clément Lenglet aren’t really capable of giving Barça what they need at the heart of the backline. And the right side of defence is weak, as well.

Agree to end your contract or be fired, Barcelona tell Dembélé

But Barça have focused their efforts on the attack; efforts that have included putting heavy pressure on Ousmane Dembélé to leave. Signings were brought in under the assumption he would go, and even as a tactic to force him out. “There are two options: either he renews or leaves,” we were told. The third way, neither one nor the other, has clearly been ruled out. Aubameyang was a good pal of Dembélé’s at Borussia Dortmund, so I thought maybe his arrival could help squeeze a few decent final performances out of the Frenchman, but that doesn’t look like happening: Barça president Joan Laporta has let it be known that Dembélé must either come to an agreement with the club to depart as a free agent, or be sacked.

I think it’s unpleasant and counterproductive. It’s a furious reaction that can be explained, sure, but not justified. Xavi insisted this wouldn’t happen, so this move by Laporta, which smacks of pure spite, doesn’t make his coach look very good. It undermines his status as a cornerstone of the club’s project. Telling Dembélé he’ll be fired if he doesn’t agree to end his contract is another stain on Laporta’s inclusion of a look-how-virtuous-we-are addendum in Barça’s statutes. It’s also an absurd footballing decision. Dembélé is an inconsistent forward, but a good one. Barça may have brought in a host of other attackers in their eagerness to push him out, but he can still be useful to them between now and June.