The Hard Tackle takes a look at three potential destinations for Ousmane Dembele amid claims that talks over a new deal with Barcelona have stalled.
Ousmane Dembele has, for a few years now, been a case of what could have been at Barcelona. When he arrived at Camp Nou from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2017, the Frenchman was hailed by many to be the long-term replacement for Neymar, who had shocked the fans just a few days prior by sealing a world record move to Paris Saint-Germain.
However, what transpired in the following years is not what either Barcelona or Dembele himself would have envisioned. A spate of injuries meant that the 23-year-old, while still being a promising young player, would hardly spend enough time on the pitch to be influential over the course of the season.
However, the very fact that he still kept on showing a lot of promise meant that Dembele still had a future with Barcelona when the 2020/21 season rolled in. And, the French international has finally started to become a regular fixture for the Blaugrana, which has, in turn, reflected on his output on the pitch.
A tally of 10 goals and 4 assists in 38 appearances across all competitions might not be impressive in the eyes of many. However, the fact that he has missed just five matches through injury is proof of progress on the fitness front, which has then been followed by progress in performance levels. As a result, talks of an improved contract have been doing the rounds for quite some time now.
Widespread reports have even suggested that Dembele is open to staying put at Barcelona instead of looking for greener pastures. Ronald Koeman and Joan Laporta have also publicly given their backing to reaching an agreement over a new deal. However, recent developments point towards an impasse being reached during negotiations.
Spanish publication Sport have outlined that talks over a renewal have stalled, with Dembele’s representatives taking their time to resume discussions. With that being said, if the possibility of a summer move does arise, there would be several clubs lining up to secure the services of the 23-year-old; and, The Hard Tackle attempts to list three potential destinations for Dembele, if he indeed calls it quits at Barcelona.
A suitor that has been linked with Dembele for quite some time now. Manchester United indeed hold a long-standing interest in the French winger, having also attempted to snap him up on loan last summer before a move failed to materialise. There had even been murmurs of the Red Devils scouring the possibility of signing him in the January transfer window, but it all came to naught.
Ahead of the summer transfer window, Manchester United have once again been touted to be lining up a move for Dembele, with certain sections even pointing towards an offer being tabled. A move for the Barcelona forward makes a great deal of sense as well, considering United have still not been able to find a definitive solution to their right wing woes.
While Mason Greenwood has done reasonably well in the position, his long-term future at Old Trafford is as a central striker. That leaves youngsters Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri as the only other natural options to be deployed on the right flank heading into the 2021/22 season, but it is clear that both the players need time to be nourished and groomed.
As a result, it is prudent for Manchester United to identify a solution to the long-standing issue in the form of a signing. To that end, Jadon Sancho has long been tipped to be on their radar, but the pursuit of the English international has been nothing short of complicated. Dembele, as a result, is a viable alternative for Manchester United, one who could also theoretically give them his best years.
Liverpool have not been linked with Dembele as heavily as Manchester United, but there are claims that the Reds do hold an interest in swooping him away from Barcelona. Like their arch-rivals, their potential intentions to launch the offensive for the 23-year-old are not unfounded either, albeit for different reasons.
Heading into the summer transfer window, Liverpool are in a transitional state following a difficult 2020/21 campaign that has seen them faltering massively in the defence of their Premier League crown and are set to end the season without any silverware.
The Merseyside giants are also out of the UEFA Champions League and with talks of the higly controversial European Super League being in the pipeline, they do need to bolster their squad to be competitive against the best of clubs in the continent while also mounting a challenge for the Premier League title again.
In addition, with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane both being linked with a possible summer exit, Liverpool also need to be on the lookout for potential replacements, which makes Dembele a viable target.
With his ability to play on either flank, he can fit in seamlessly in Jurgen Klopp’s system, although his fitness record might be something they need to be wary of. Nevertheless, in purely sporting sense, the Barcelona star is an option worth considering for Liverpool.
A suitor that falls into the category of Manchester United. Like the Premier League heavyweights, Juventus are reportedly hot on the trails of Dembele and have tabled an offer for him, as per claims. And, the interest in the Barcelona winger is understandable as well.
The Bianconeri, like Liverpool in the Premier League, have been disastrous in their defence of the Serie A title, with Andrea Pirlo constantly struggling to get the best out of his players. The system in place is quite promising, though, and with the right players, there is a chance that the Juventus boss could turn things around at the Allianz Stadium.
This is where Dembele comes in. With Paulo Dybala facing an uncertain future at club, Juventus are in need of signing a possible replacement anyway. However, Dembele, with his qualities can be an effective fit in the setup that Pirlo has put in place in Turin, with the Frenchman having the ability of not just playing as a wide midfielder but also in the strike partnership.
Indeed, over the course of the ongoing season at Barcelona, Dembele has been deployed in a front two alongside Lionel Messi and to reasonable amounts of success. The fact that he is a runner as well as an able carrier of the ball means his presence upfront could open up new avenues for Juventus.
And so, it is not hard to see why Pirlo would want to sign Dembele this coming summer. Having said that, any move, not just for Juventus but also Manchester United and Liverpool, will ultimately depend on whether contract talks with Barcelona have stalled for good or if Dembele’s desire to remain at Camp Nou is realised in the form of a new contract. An intriguing summer beckons.