Chelsea have now emerged as frontrunners to sign Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele before the transfer deadline, according to reports.
The 24-year-old Frenchman’s future has been one of the major topics of the January window following lengthy uncertainty over his future. However, he is now firmly on the way to ending his four-and-a-half-year spell at Camp Nou.
Indeed, he is into the final six months of his contract. Barcelona therefore want to get rid of him now rather than losing him as a free agent in the summer transfer window.
Manchester United, Newcastle and Chelsea have all had strong links with a move for Dembele this month.
Paris Saint-Germain had then emerged a likely destination for the France international. However, PSG distanced themselves from a deal on Monday.
It therefore looked like Dembele would be staying at Barcelona. That is not a situation the La Liga side want as they look to shift his wages. In fact, they are looking to bring in Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang although that deal is also in doubt.
However, Chelsea have now come forward with serious interest late on on deadline day.
ABC Sevilla claims that the Blues’ negotiations for a deal for Dembele are “99 per cent done”.
The forward will reportedly sign a contract until the summer of 2026. The negotiations have not yet been finalised, but ABC Sevilla states that Chelsea ‘will be his destination’.
Sky Sports reporter Gary Cotterill also revealed Chelsea interest in Dembele on Sky Sports News.
He said: “What I’m hearing from the Barcelona end is that Chelsea are now front of the queue, indeed if there is a queue, to sign Dembele in this window.
“[Chelsea boss] Thomas Tuchel is a big admirer of Dembele, they worked together at Borussia Dortmund. Dembele is a big admirer of Thomas Tuchel.”
Dembele could leave amid Aubameyang chase
Meanwhile, Dembele’s future has had links with that of Aubameyang in recent days.
The latter remains frozen out at Arsenal and Barcelona tried a loan deal.
They hoped to shift Dembele’s wages to get Aubameyang in, but the Gunners man’s wages are proving a stumbling block on their own.
He is Arsenal’s highest earner and the London club are reportedly not willing to pay part of his salary in any deal with Barcelona.