Ousmane Dembele is set to leave FC Barcelona for free in 2024 as things stand, with contract renewal talks having stopped according to SPORT.
Dembele was famously ready to walk from Barca 12 months ago when negotiations on an extension hit a brick wall.
The Frenchman and his agent Moussa Sissoko played hardball with Barca president Joan Laporta and sporting director Mateu Alemany, with it suggested by many a party that the forward should watch the rest of the 2021/2022 season from the stands as punishment.
Head coach Xavi Hernandez didn’t agree, and subsequently took Dembele under his wing to turn him into one of the world’s best wingers and top providers of assists.
Dembele eventually put pen to paper, but his new deal expires in 2024 and comes with a paltry €50 million ($55 million) release clause of which player and agent can pocket half if activated.
With Dembele starting the current campaign in fine form and helping fire Barca to the top of the league before getting injured away at Girona in January, the club are naturally eager to arrange fresh terms.
According to SPORT, however, talks have come to a stop after preliminary contact because of Barca’s difficulty navigating La Liga’s salary cap.
Earlier this year, La Liga president Javier Tebas warned Barca that they must wipe €200 million ($218 million) from the wage bill.
And while Barca want to settle the matter with Dembele this summer, they realistically can’t offer him improved pay until 2024-2025 by which he would already be a free agent.
Demeble could therefore entertain potential offers from big spenders such as Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain while a reunion with former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich also hasn’t been ruled out.
Dembele wants to stay at Barca, but his entourage want him to be “valued more” by his employers according to SPORT.
With talks at an impasse then, Dembele is set to ride off into the sunset a year from now in a development that would be an embarrassment to the Catalans and a dent to their status among the European elite.