Barcelona’s latest take on ‘Ousmane Dembele case’ as Chelsea target becomes free agent

Chelsea's 2022-23 Premier League fixtures

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Ousmane Dembele could snub Chelsea and stay at Barcelona despite his contract at Camp Nou expiring on Thursday night. The 25-year-old is officially a free agent and could be at the centre of one of the summer’s biggest coups if Todd Boehly can lure him to Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have been heavily linked with Dembele ahead of and during the summer transfer window as Thomas Tuchel looks to bolster his attacking options for the 2022-23 season. Tuchel could recruit as many as three new forwards to refresh his front line after Romelu Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan.

The Blues had seemingly shelved their interest in Dembele to pursue Leeds United winger Raphinha, agreeing a deal worth around £60million for his signature. However, Barcelona’s late arrival has plagued their hopes in doubt, with the La Liga giants considered his dream destination.

Raphinha and Dembele’s future could be directly connected. It seems increasingly likely each of the right-wingers will be playing at Chelsea and Barcelona this season. And Spanish reports claim the latter could yet remain in Catalonia, especially if Raphinha remains in the Premier League.

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According to Mundo Deportivo, Dembele hasn’t lost hope of a late Barcelona approach with an improved contract offer to what he previously rejected. But the Catalan club have been informed that if they return with a similar offer, he wouldn’t be interested in re-signing and will move elsewhere on a free transfer.

The report claims Barcelona could reactivate their interest in renewing Dembele’s deal in mid-July when they will hope to be in a stronger financial position. However, it would rely on whether the France international is still available, with Chelsea strongly interested in recruiting him, and if they haven’t found his replacement – a.k.a. Raphinha.

Dembele’s future ultimately relies on where Raphinha ends up this summer, and Arsenal are also vying for his signature. But Barcelona and Chelsea are undoubtedly the frontrunners, with Champions League football on offer – and if either club signs the 25-year-old winger, Dembele will likely move the other way.

Chelsea are also closing in on Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who would feature on the opposite wing to Dembele. Blues head coach Tuchel will be eager to recruit both after Lukaku’s exit and with Timo Werner also facing an uncertain future.

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