Barcelona in search of superstar’s replacement
MADRID: Barcelona have three weeks left to find a replacement for Neymar and the club have wasted no time in establishing Ousmane Dembele as the preferred choice.
There is already contact between the 20-year-old Dortmund winger and Barcelona technical secretary Robert Fernandez because they made a move for French international last summer… when he would only have cost them €15 million (RM76 million) from Stade Rennes.
This summer, after a good season in Germany, his price had rocketed to €90 million. And now that Barça have the Neymar money, another €10 million has been added — so it’s €100 million for talented prospect who has made seven appearances for his country scoring one goal.
That is not likely to put them off. Dembele is quick, two-footed and will be willing to work. He will have French teammate Sami Umtiti to take care of him as he settles and he will cost Barcelona less than half the wages it would have taken to keep Neymar.
The problem will be Dortmund’s reluctance to sell. Barcelona could offer them Gerard Deulofeu to sweeten the deal but if they did that they would have to pay a penalty fee to Everton after buying the winger back from them this summer on the basis that they would not sell him in the first year.
If Dembele doesn’t come off there is a fascinating plan B — buy Angel Di Maria now and get Antoine Griezmann in a year’s time. In many ways Griezmann is the gold-plated option as the peruse the market for a new Neymar. If Neymar is number three in the world then Griezmann is 3.5. The problem is his buy-out clause.
It was set at €100 million but has been bumped up to €200 million for this year’s transfer window while Atletico Madrid are banned from registering new signings.
Neither of these two options mean Barcelona have given up on Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho.
Neymar is no longer at Barcelona to help persuade Coutinho to make the move but he does have an excellent relationship with Luis Suarez. Not that it is Coutinho who needs persuading. Liverpool’s total objection to a sale is the obstacle.
There is one more card that Barça could play and some of their supporters are beginning to wonder why they don’t play it. Just take the Neymar money, jet across to Montecarlo and stick it all on red 10, in other words buy Kylian Mbappe.
They would be signing the player who most commentators believe will emerge as Neymar’s biggest competitor to the best player in the world tag in the post Messi-Ronaldo era. And they would also be taking Real’s top summer target.
It’s a wild card Barcelona could play but as things stand it remains face down on the table while they concentrate on Dembele and Coutinho. Daily Mail
Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele heads the list of direct Barcelona replacements for Neymar .