Joan Laporta has provided an update on the situation of Barcelona contract rebel Ousmane Dembele amid speculations that he will be exiled from the first team.

Speaking in a press conference (h/t Barça Blaugranes), Barcelona president Joan Laporta has claimed that the decision on whether Ousmane Dembele plays for the club again lies with manager Xavi Hernandez.

The 24-year-old winger is persona non-grata at Camp Nou after refusing to budge from his massive contract demands. Having rejected the offer for an extension, the Frenchman is being pushed out of the club. Barcelona tried to offload him in the January transfer window. However, a move did not materialise as Dembele was unwilling to entertain any offers that were on the table.

Now that he has remained a Barcelona player, there have been talks of a potential contract termination for the winger as the Catalans are unhappy with him. Shedding light on the matter, Laporta, in his interview, said: “We will evaluate all the options and I hope that we can decide and execute the best one for the interests of Barça.”

As for the talks of him being banished from the first-team squad for the remainder of the campaign, Laporta insisted that any call regarding Dembele’s playing situation will be made by manager Xavi only.

“The trainer decides, of course. The coach will decide, and it’s a decision for him,” he said. “I do think that he works for this season and the next one, and surely it is more difficult to play a player who will surely not be here – because there should be another club – because we are building a team.

Further elaborating on the situation, he added: “He has not wanted to renew and this feeling is a problem that I hope can be resolved in our favour for our interest and so that he does not get hurt either.”

Despite the situation being as it is, Laporta claimed that he still thinks Dembele is better than PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe. As quoted by the Daily Mail, he said: “I still think that Dembele is better than Mbappe. I don’t regret having said it because we are convinced of his talent. That’s why we made him a very good renewal offer and that’s how he let us know too.”

With Dembele in the final six months of his contract, clubs are queuing up to sign him in the summer. There is significant interest from Manchester United, PSG and Juventus, while European champions Chelsea are also keen. As to whether he dons the Barcelona shirt again, Xavi will take the decision.

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