Barcelona in search of su­per­star’s re­place­ment

New Straits Times - - Sport -

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 .

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