Xavi looks to the market as Barcelona boss confirms Dembele is set for PSG

Coach wants reinforcements as star winger heads for the exit

Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele has told coach Xavi he wants to join Paris Saint-Germain AFP
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Barcelona coach Xavi insists funds generated by the impending sale of Ousmane Dembele to Paris Saint-Germain must be reinvested in the team after seeing his plans for the new season derailed by the loss of one of his key attackers.

Dembele was an unused substitute in Barcelona's 1-0 pre-season friendly win over AC Milan in Las Vegas on Wednesday, after which Xavi confirmed the 26-year-old will join PSG.

The French winger has a £43 million release clause in his contract which the Parisians have reportedly triggered, shortly before the terms of his deal stipulated the figure would rise to £86m.

Talks have taken place between the parties and Dembele has made up his mind that his future lies away from Barca, whom he joined from Borussia Dortmund for £125m in 2017.

“Dembele came and told me he wanted to leave,” said Xavi. “I am a little disappointed. He has a proposal from PSG and we can't do anything. We can't compete with the proposal made to him from France.

"This is the market. Footballers who do not want to be at Barca, they have to be let go.

"We had a stage prepared for this possible loss and now we have to strengthen ourselves. Ousmane's loss weakens us."

Barcelona remain in the midst of a financial crisis that has lingered since the pandemic, and the loss of Dembele for significantly less than his full market value will come as a bitter blow.

His departure also leaves Xavi looking to replace a key component of his attack. Dembele scored eight times and provided nine assists in 35 games across all competitions last season.

Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix, who spent last season on loan at Chelsea, is one name reported to be under consideration, while the Blaugrana have a long-standing interest in Manchester City's Bernardo Silva.

For PSG, Dembele's imminent arrival comes as a welcome boost following Lionel Messi's switch to Inter Miami and at a time when Kylian Mbappe's future remains unclear.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding Mbappe, the Parisians have been busy adding to their squad under new coach Luis Enrique. Midfielder Manuel Ugarte has arrived from Sporting Lisbon (€60m), defender Lucas Hernandez has joined from Bayern Munich (€45m), while Kang-in Lee (€22m) and Marco Asensio (free) have moved from Mallorca and Real Madrid, respectively.

Updated: August 02, 2023, 2:11 PM