Barcelona have reached out to winger Ousmane Dembele to kick-start the process of renewing the Frenchman’s contract this summer.
The 24-year-old, who has just enjoyed the best year of his career since joining Barcelona, has just one year remaining on his current deal and recently confessed he is ‘in no rush‘ to discuss an extension.
There’s obviously a lot of work that needs to be done, but Barcelona are believed to be feeling positive about their chances of retaining Dembele, with the latest phone call with his agent only strengthening their optimism.
Barcelona have made it abundantly clear that they want to keep Dembele around as a core part of the first team, but they have also stressed they will not be held to ransom and will sell the 24-year-old this summer if no agreement on a new deal is forthcoming.
President Joan Laporta is not prepared to let Dembele walk away for free next summer, five years after he joined the club in a deal worth up to £140m, and will instead look to recover some of that fee with a sale if necessary.
Should Dembele hit the market, there will be no shortage of suitors. Manchester United are regularly linked with the Frenchman, while Arsenal, Chelsea and Juventus have all been touted as potential landing spots in recent months.
While Dembele’s return of 11 goals and five assists in 44 games this past year definitely looks underwhelming, it does not tell the whole story. He has been fantastic in 2021 and was a large part of the reason why Barcelona managed to claw their way back into the La Liga title race.
Barcelona know just how important he is to the team and are desperate to convince him to stay, but they are reluctant to commit too much money to a player who has managed over 20 league games in just two of his four seasons at the club.
The hope is that a deal will be thrashed out at next week’s meeting, but if talks continue to drag on, expect to see the rumour mill start churning.