Chelsea transfer target Ousmane Dembele has faced the music at Camp Nou after rejecting a new contract with Barcelona.
The 24-year-old winger, who was subsequently told to leave in the January transfer window, has been fiercely booed by fans and hounded after his every touch since the turn of February.
Despite a handful of exciting cameos and a blessing from head coach Xavi Hernandez, the supporters have continued to vent their frustrations at the Frenchman.
However, Dembele squeezed out a reluctant cheer from the Camp Nou faithful in spectacular fashion after scoring once and assisting twice in a 23-minute cameo off the bench against Athletic Bilbao.
The winger’s current deal with the Spanish side expires at the end of the season. He’s provided four goals and assists in his last 112 minutes of La Liga football.
Aware of the unique talent that Lionel Messi has lauded in the past, Xavi has supported the France international and asked Barcelona fans to change their tune.
“The fans were 10 out of 10, and the support was brilliant throughout the game, but I would like them to support Ousmane, too – I’d ask them to stop booing him,” the Barcelona boss said, after Dembele’s name was met with whistles and jeers against Atletico Madrid earlier this month
But, nearly a month has passed since Xavi’s pledge to the fans, and Dembele continues to be booed – should the forward continue to be shunned by the fans, then Chelsea can use the saga as leverage to wrap up a pre-contract agreement.
Football.london reported in January that the Blues were monitoring the France international’s situation, but it remains to be seen whether Chelsea will push to try and sign Dembele in the summer transfer window.
Dembele, who has been tipped to become ‘one of the best’ by Messi, looks to remain an option for Thomas Tuchel, having enjoyed time together at Borussia Dortmund
While the Argentine’s blessing and the fruitful history with the German boss should all but give Marina Granovskaia the green light, the mood around Camp Nou regarding Dembele’s future looks to be changing.
Xavi and club President Joan Laporta have opened the door for the Frenchman to stay, but his agent continues to pose as an obstacle, according to Mundo Deportivo.
Should the west Londoners look to secure Dembele’s future, then Chelsea might have to act sooner rather than later.