Barcelona came painfully close to losing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. It never really had a chance to get rid of Ousmane Dembélé.
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said on Tuesday that the deal to sign Aubameyang a minute before the deadline for the transfer window ended on Monday night, and that Dembélé inexplicably rejected two good offers to leave the club.
The club did not want Dembélé to stay after the French player’s agents refused several offers to extend his contract in negotiations that lasted almost six months.
“We had made a good offer for him to renew and stay his contract, but it became a financial problem and he wanted more,” Laporta said. “We showed him two good offers (on the transfer deadline) for him to play for another club in the last six months, the last of an English club, and he did not accept them and would rather stay here. We were surprised. “
Dembélé’s contract expires in June and he can leave for free. Barcelona broke its own record to sign the young Borussia Dortmund striker in 2017 in a deal worth a maximum of 147 million euros (then $ 175 million), including additions.
“It’s hard to understand,” said Laporta, who named Dembélé better than Kylian Mbappé last year. “We think he might already have a deal with another club. That’s what his agent said.
Laporta said Dembélé’s permanence was “not good for him or the club.” He did not say if the player would be reinstated in the team of coach Xavi Hernández, and said that the decision would be taken into account in the best interests of the club. Dembélé was plagued by health problems this season and in his early years at the Catalan club.
The departure of Dembélé would have given more room for salary capital and made the addition of Aubameyang much easier, Laporta said.
He said the documents needed to seal the deal with the Gabonese striker arrived one minute before Monday’s midnight deadline. The president raised his fist in celebration as he left the club’s headquarters after the deal was closed, and he was followed a few moments later by Aubameyang and his representatives.
The Arsenal documents allowed the player to become a free agent, giving Barcelona extra time to make the deal official, which should happen in the coming days, Laporta said.
Aubameyang arrived in the city on Monday to finalize the negotiations after being sacked by Arsenal for disciplinary reasons. He went to the African Cup of Nations but did not play after being diagnosed with heart lesions during his recovery from the coronavirus.
Barcelona’s other signatures in the winter window were veteran Brazil defender Dani Alves and strikers Ferran Torres and Adama Traoré.
The club has been slowly restructuring its finances after it failed to keep Lionel Messi at the end of last season. It has already been eliminated in the Champions League, the Spanish Super Cup and the Copa del Rey. It ranks fifth in the Spanish league, 15 points behind leaders Real Madrid with a match in hand.