Ousmane Dembele has made it clear to Barcelona that he will only contemplate signing a new contract if the club offer him the wage increase he is looking for, 90min can confirm.
The winger’s latest round of contract talks broke down on Wednesday and Barcelona now expect him to begin negotiating with sides across the continent when the transfer window opens in January.
The stumbling block in these negotiations has been wages. Dembele earns in excess of £200,000 per week and is looking for a pay rise, but sources have confirmed to 90min that Barcelona are not prepared to offer that.
They are instead trying to convince Dembele to take a pay cut in line with the rest of the squad, but his representatives have been confused by the club’s £55m capture of Ferran Torres and costly pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland, while simultaneously claiming that they cannot meet Dembele’s demands.
A line of communication between Barcelona and Dembele remains open, but his agents are speaking to clubs from all across the globe and have received enough interest to make them willing to walk away from Camp Nou if needs be.
While the 24-year-old is not a top target for most of those suitors, Europe’s elite recognise that the chance to sign a player of Dembele’s calibre on a free transfer does not come around often and most are ready to move when the chance arises.
In England, Dembele has received interest from Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United, while Newcastle United have also registered their intent to sign him if they can avoid relegation from the Premier League.
There is significant competition from mainland Europe too. Bayern Munich, Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain are all keeping a very close eye on the situation, while several Turkish sides have also thrown their hats into the ring.
Apart from Atletico, all of those sides will be free to open formal negotiations with Dembele on January 1.
Barcelona now face the tricky decision of whether they should keep Dembele for the remainder of the campaign and lose him for free, or sell him in January for an enormous loss on the £135.5m they paid to sign him in 2017.