When Ousmane Dembele left Borussia Dortmund for FC Barcelona, most assumed he was on a one-way trip to absolute stardom.
However, for the player and for the club of his dreams, it has been a nightmare experience. Issues settling into the country, poor form, fitness issues, and a general lack of chemistry has left Dembele an unwanted man in Spain. Though talk exists of a new deal on the table from Barca, most believe it simply comes down to trying to avoid losing a big asset for nothing in the summer of 2022.
A massive fee of up to €140m was paid for Dembele, and it would be hard to argue he has even paid off a third of that in performances. The Frenchman has endured injury horrors and generally poor form at Barcelona.
Perhaps the leading example of this comes from the dreaded exit to Liverpool in 2019. 3-0 up and cruising, Barcelona got a chance in the final minute of the game to make it 4-0. Dembele missed, and the frustration of Lionel Messi, now at Paris Saint-Germain, was clear for all to see. The Argentine was raging at the miss, and it proved to be prophetic as Liverpool went through to lift the UEFA Champions League title.
The player has been linked with various moves, including Manchester United and PSG, but it looks like his next journey could be a stop-off in England. While teams like Liverpool are being mentioned, the closest links are actually to Newcastle United. The Toon are set to spend big in January and in the summer of 2022, but see Dembele as someone they could land for a free transfer and pay him the massive signing-on fee needed to convince him to become the next start in the North East.
Ansu Fati close to new Barcelona deal
While losing Dembele would be a huge loss for Barcelona due to the sunk cost, it is something they can live with. Losing Ansu Fati, though, would be unforgivable in the eyes of the club and the fans. Therefore, talk that a new deal until 2026 is set to be signed should give Barcelona fans plenty of hope that the supremely talented winger will be going nowhere.
Handed the No. 10 shirt after Messi left, Fati is seen as the face of the club and the next star to build a generation around. Though injuries have limited his game time, his impact when fit is impossible to ignore. Losing him for a cheap deal, or even on a free transfer, would be seen as further proof that Barcelona are finished as a force for the medium-term.
However, an agreement to keep Fati would be enough to likely keep fans onside as the youth project continues to gather pace. While Dembele might go, the fact he has failed to truly settle in Spain means that fans cannot truly miss him. To lose Fati, though, a generational talent from the academy would be a major blow for a club in need of any good news that it can get. A good example of youngsters who came from the academy and playing for the club is Gavi.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.