Barcelona tells Dembele to find new club this month

Barcelona wants to move France winger Ousmane Dembélé before the close of the winter transfer window, a top club official said on Thursday.

Barcelona soccer director Mateu Alemany said the club told Dembélé he needs to find a new club after having refused to agree to a new deal. His contract expires in June.

“During the six, seven months that we have been negotiating and talking, Barça has made several offers for Ousmane to continue with us, all of which have been rejected by his agents,” Alemany said. “Given the situation, we have told the player and his agents that he must leave immediately, because we want players who are committed to the future of the team, and that he must leave before Jan. 31.”

Coach Xavi Hernández has not included Dembélé on his squad for the Copa del Rey game at Athletic Bilbao on Thursday. Alemany said that decision was a direct result of his refusal to sign a new contract.

Barcelona broke its own club record for transfers to acquire Dembélé from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 with a deal, including add-ons, worth 147 million euros (then $175 million). Many Barcelona fans questioned the expensive deal that used up a good chunk of the 220 million euros (then $262 million) that Barcelona received from Paris Saint-Germain for Neymar just weeks before.

The young forward was injured for long stretches of his first two seasons and really established himself as a regular starter only last season. He has 31 goals in 129 appearances for Barcelona.