Barcelona have finally found their replacement for Neymar – but it has cost them a pretty penny to do so.
According to multiple reports (including the Guardian and Sky Sports) on Thursday afternoon, Barca have reached an agreement with Borussia Dortmund for Ousmane Dembele in a deal that could be worth up to €150m – second only to the €222m transfer of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month.
Representatives from the two sides are believed to have met in Monaco on the day and in the region that the Champions League was being made, where an agreement was finally hammered out that will see Barca pay an initial €120m guaranteed with the remaining €30m coming via add-ons.
Finally signing a big target will do much to alleviate the pressure on Barca president Josep Bartomeu. Having lost Neymar (and with Messi’s new contract still as of yet unsigned) the pressure was growing to replace the Brazilian forward.
Attempts to bring his compatriot Philippe Coutinho to Camp Nou have hit a brick wall with Liverpool refusing to sell their star asset despite three bids being lodged, and while Dortmund were initially playing hard ball with their stance on Dembele (rejecting an earlier €100m offer), the player’s poor behaviour and the fact that a fixed asking price existed always made it more likely that the French international would be leaving the Bundesliga before the end of the window.
Dortmund beat some stiff competition to sign the 20-year-old last summer from Rennes for a reported €15m. He went on to score 10 goals in 49 games at the Westfalenstadion and impressed to the point where the German club are now set to make a profit of ten times what they paid for him.
All going well, Dembele could be presented to the Barcelona fans at the weekend. What happens now with the remainder of Barca’s targets remains to be seen but another addition, to join fellow recruits Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu and Paulinho, should not be ruled out with mooted interest in Angel di Maria and Jean-Michael Seri reported.
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we catch up with Sligo Rovers striker Vinny Faherty after that brilliant win at Cork City last weekend, as well as looking back at last weekend’s Premier Divison matches and ahead to this weekend’s FAI Cup action.