Xavi Hernandez is not closing the door on Ousmane Dembele, and is still hoping the forward will extend his stay at Barcelona beyond the summer of 2022. The French forward has just over four months remaining on his current deal, and as it stands he is expected to leave on a free transfer when his contract expires on June 30.
Barcelona were hoping to convince Dembele to sign a new deal, while the player was also keen to stay at the Camp Nou in the long-term. The France international’s agent and the La Liga club were in discussions for a number of weeks but were unable to reach an agreement.
Talks were shelved late last year, and Barcelona tried hard to sell him during the January transfer window, but were unable to find a club willing to pay a fee. Interested suitors like Manchester United and Juventus were ready to wait until the summer and sign him on a free transfer.
Dembele was expected to sit out the second-half of the season owing to his decision not to sign a new deal. However, Xavi has kept the player with his first-team squad and has even given him regular game time in recent weeks.
The Barcelona boss is keen to utilise Dembele’s talents while he is are available, and is hoping that it will convince him to change his mind. Dembele started during their recent 4-1 win over Valencia and was involved in two of the goals.
“I see him happy, it’s true, and I’d like it if he stayed, I don’t hide it,” Xavi said, as quoted by Sport.
The manager is not the only person hoping Dembele will remain at the Camp Nou beyond the summer of 2022. The Catalan club’s players are also trying their best to convince the 2018 World Cup winner that his future lies at the club.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who joined the Catalan club from Arsenal in January, is a close friend of Dembele and revealed recently that he had told the Frenchman to stay. The Gabonese forward is unsure if his plea will change Dembele’s mind, but is hoping things will change before the end of the season.
Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the latest to weigh in on the Dembele saga. The German goalkeeper revealed that all the players want the French attacker to stay at the club, while lauding his influence on the team.
“Dembele can make the difference at any team in the world, I hope that it’s here,” Ter Stegen said. “It’s his and the club’s decision, but I’d like it if he stayed with us. And the rest of the players think the same as me.”