OF­FER RE­JECTED DEMBELE SUS­PENDED

Dort­mund, Barca could not agree on trans­fer fee

New Straits Times - - Sport -

BER­LIN tal­ents in Europe, has been hotly pur­sued to fill the void left by Ney­mar’s move to Paris Sain­tGer­main for a world-record €222 mil­lion (RM1.12 bil­lion) last week.

Ger­man tabloid Bild re­ported that Dort­mund want an eye-wa­ter­ing €150 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. We tried to reach him but we were un­able to,” Dort­mund coach Peter Bosz told re­porters.

Unim­pressed, Dort­mund promptly sus­pended the French­man 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 Cup match.

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,” it wrote.

Spec­u­la­tion about Dembele’s pos­si­ble move to the Camp Nou reached fever-pitch in re­cent days af­ter the French in­ter­na­tional deleted the words “Borus­sia Dort­mund” and the team’s slo­gan “true love” from his Twit­ter and In­sta­gram pro­files.

Dembele him­self 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 re­place­ments be­fore the trans­fer win­dow closes.

They are look­ing for some­one to slot into the famed at­tack­ing line-up along­side the world-class tal­ents of Li­onel Messi and Luis Suarez.

The Cata­lan giants have also ap­proached Liverpool about sign­ing Philippe Coutinho – though here too there has been no sign of a deal.

The Span­ish club were re­ported to have in­creased their bid for Coutinho to £90 mil­lion on Wed­nes­day af­ter two pre­vi­ous of­fers were re­jected by the Premier League side.

But Liverpool man­ager Klopp re­mains adamant the 25-year-old will stay at An­field no mat­ter what Barca are 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.

Pre­co­cious for­ward Dembele joined Dort­mund last sum­mer from French side Rennes for just €15 mil­lion.

He went on to en­joy a promis­ing first sea­son in the Bun­desliga, scor­ing six goals in 32 ap­pear­ances.

Dembele’s skills on the pitch, in­clud­ing a se­ries of daz­zling as­sists, quickly im­pressed and earned him ‘wun­derkind’ head­lines in the Ger­man press, though he has been crit­i­cised at times for lack­ing dis­ci­pline.

“I’m not a phe­nom­e­non, I’m just try­ing to be de­ci­sive for my team-mates, there are a lot of tal­ented young peo­ple in foot­ball,” a mod­est Dembele said last March.

Dembele was al­ready courted by Barcelona last year, but opted for a five-year deal with Dort­mund to im­prove his game and gain more first-team ex­pe­ri­ence.

Ac­cord­ing to Span­ish news­pa­per Mundo De­portivo at the time, the young­ster how­ever left Barca sport­ing di­rec­tor Robert Fer­nan­dez in no doubt about his true am­bi­tions.

“One day I will play for Barca,” he said. AFP

Ous­mane Dembele

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