Barca agree Dembele deal

Forward set to leave Dortmund for €150m, making him 2nd most expensive footballer

MADRID • Barcelona have confirmed that they have reached an agreement to sign Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund, with the forward expected to become the second most expensive footballer in a deal that could be worth €150 million (S$240.74 million).

Earlier this month, Neymar moved from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) for a world-record fee of €222 million.

Talks over Dembele, who has been suspended by Dortmund since Aug 10 after he missed a training session, had broken down after Barca refused to meet the German club's valuation.

But it is understood that after weighing up a fourth bid for Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho, Barcelona officials instead opted to return for the 20-year-old, with a deal worth an initial €120 million, with up to €30 million in add-ons finally agreed on Thursday.

A club spokesman confirmed to the Catalan newspaper Mundo Deportivo that negotiations had gone very well, adding that an agreement in principle had been reached. Sources close to the player are also confident that Dembele - scorer of six goals in his debut Bundesliga season - will complete his move to LaLiga.

The France winger is expected to be unveiled by Monday, even though Dortmund said yesterday that no decision has been made.

With a week to go before the transfer window closes, Barcelona have had several attempts to land Dembele and Coutinho rebuffed, piling pressure on beleaguered president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Following Barca's 5-1 aggregate thrashing by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, "#bartomeudimiteya" (Bartomeu resign now) became a trending topic worldwide on Twitter.

A growing split between Barca's top players and board was also in evidence this week, as the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez posted photos on social media of them partying with Neymar just hours after the club announced they are suing the Brazilian for €8.5 million.

They want Neymar to return the bonus paid when he signed a five-year extension last November. The forward later announced that he will contest the lawsuit and sue his former club over a €26 million unpaid loyalty bonus.

Barcelona's attempt to land Nice midfielder Jean Michael Seri have also been scuttled by PSG, according to the player's agent. Barcelona reportedly agreed terms with Nice and, amid confusion over whether Seri's contract included a €40 million release clause, PSG reportedly called the French club's president Jean-Pierre Rivere to tell him they were willing to pay more.

Seri's agent Franklin Mala told Catalan radio station RAC1: "Now PSG are putting pressure on the club to take the player. It's crazy. They just want to do it to f*** Barca."

Barcelona later pulled out of the deal.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2017, with the headline 'Barca agree Dembele deal'. Print Edition | Subscribe