Barca target Dembele in hot water at Dortmund Coveted youngster suspended for no-show after club rejects offer
BERLIN — Borussia Dortmund on Thursday said it had rejected an offer from Barcelona for Ousmane Dembele as the wantaway forward was suspended for missing training.
Dortmund said a move by Dembele to Camp Nou, where he is being lined up as a replacement for Neymar, was unlikely, after it turned down an offer that did not reflect the 20-year-old Frenchman’s “extraordinary” value or the current state of the transfer market.
“As there is no other offer on the table, a transfer by the player to FC Barcelona is not at this time expected, nor currently very likely,” said a club statement.
Dembele, who is considered one of the top young talents in Europe, is wanted by Barca to fill the void left by Neymar’s move to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record $260 million last week.
German tabloid Bild reported that Dortmund want an eye-watering $175 million for their rising star, a price Barca appear unwilling to pay.
Dembele, who has made no secret of his desire to play for Barcelona, failed to show up for practice on Thursday.
“We don’t know why he didn’t show. We tried to reach him but we were unable to,” Dortmund coach Peter Bosz told reporters.
Unimpressed, Dortmund promptly suspended Dembele for his unexplained absence.
“We will of course sanction this misconduct,” Dortmund’s sporting director Michael Zorc said in a statement, adding that Dembele was suspended until after this weekend’s German Cup match against minnows RielasingenArlen.
Bild suggested that Dembele may have been trying to break the deadlock in the negotiations with his no-show.
“Dembele really wants to go to Barcelona but yesterday he had to swallow the fact that the two clubs could not agree on a transfer fee,” read a Bild report.
Speculation about Dembele’s possible move to La Liga reached fever pitch this week after the France international deleted the words “Borussia Dortmund” and the team’s slogan — “True Love” — from his Twitter and Instagram profiles.
He told Gol TV last week that it was “a pleasure” to see his name on Barca’s wish list.
Neymar’s stunning departure to PSG has sent Barca scrambling for a replacement before the transfer window shuts.
Barca is looking for someone to slot into its feared attack alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
The Catalan giant has also approached Liverpool about signing Philippe Coutinho, although there has been no sign of a deal as yet.
The Spanish club was reported to have increased its bid for Brazil international Coutinho to around $115 million on Wednesday after two previous offers were rejected by the Premier League side.
But Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp remains adamant the 25-year-old former Inter Milan player will stay at Anfield no matter what Barca is prepared to pay.
“We want to have the best possible team. This means keeping the guys we have,” Klopp told Sky in Germany on Thursday.
“Liverpool is not a club that needs to sell. That is set in stone. So what they pay in the end doesn’t matter.”
Precocious forward Dembele, who has won seven caps for his country, joined Dortmund last summer from French side Rennes for just $18 million.
He went on to enjoy a promising first season in the Bundesliga, scoring six times in 32 appearances.
Dembele’s skills, including a series of dazzling assists, quickly impressed and earned him ‘wunderkind’ headlines in the German media, although he has been criticized at times for lacking discipline.
“I’m not a phenomenon, I’m just trying to be decisive for my teammates. There are a lot of talented young people in football,” a modest Dembele said last March.