Ousmane Dembele was warned by Barcelona’s higher-ups after reaching an impasse on discussions over a new contract, with Premier League clubs waiting in the wings
Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele has issued a statement about his future after damning comments from others inside the club.
Sporting director Mateu Alemany had revealed during the week that the Frenchman is no longer part of the club’s plans, after failing to make progress on a contract renewal.
“We understand Dembele’s decision is to not stay at the club and we have communicated our decision (to leave him out of the trip to Bilbao),” Alemany said, ahead of Barca’s elimination from the Copa del Rey.
Dembele is out of contract in the summer, at which point he will be able to leave for nothing, but the former Borussia Dortmund man has reiterated his commitment to the cause for the coming months.
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“For the last four years, I’ve made the choice to never respond, to never try to justify myself. Was this an error? Definitely. From today, that’s over,” Dembele’s statement reads, as translated by Get French Football News.
“[…] I am 24, and like any man I have faults and imperfections. I’ve had difficult periods, injuries, I’ve been hit with Covid-19. Without having trained, coach called on me and I always answered the call without batting an eyelid. […] I realise how lucky I am to have the best job in the world.”
Dembele has missed a number of games during his time at Camp Nou, with a knee problem keeping him out at the start of the current campaign, though he has featured 11 times this term since returning to action in November.
A number of Premier League clubs have been linked with a move for the 24-year-old, including Newcastle United and long-term admirers Manchester United.
However, even if he doesn’t remain at Camp Nou beyond the summer, he stressed he remains committed for as long as he remains a Barcelona player.
“I will not allow anyone to say that I am not committed to the sporting project. […],” he continued.
“Still under contract, I am fully involved and am making myself available to my club and my coach. I have always given my all for my teammates as well as for all of the supporters – and now’s not when that’ll end.
“I am not a man who cheats and even less one who is used to giving in to blackmail.”
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After Alemany said Dembele “must leave the club as soon as possible,” players’ union AFE issued a statement of their own warning the La Liga side over their conduct.
“The AFE considers that the signing of an employment contract as a professional soccer player obliges him to provide his services on behalf of the club following the instructions provided to him,” the statement read,
“On the other hand, the club is obliged to pay the agreed wages and allow the provision of services under the same conditions as the rest of his teammates, without there being any type of discrimination or pressure for the athlete to waive their labour rights.
“AFE considers that not reaching an agreement to renew an employment contract does not imply a labour breach, so it cannot have any consequence for the provision of services,” the union added.