Ousmane Dembele could soon become the second most expensive player in history as reports claim Barcelona have finally agreed a deal that could rise to 150 million euros ($177 million) for the wantaway 20-year-old.
According to media outlets in Spain, France and Germany, Barca are prepared to break their own transfer record with an initial offer of 120 million euros supplemented by 30 million extra in add-ons.
“We’re getting nearer to a decision, but one hasn’t been reached yet,” Dortmund’s managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke told Sky, denying claims a deal had been finalised between the clubs’ directors at Thursday’s Champions League draw in Monaco.
“We are not the sort of club who does our business in public, we can only say that there is no fixed agreement.”
Dembele, who cost Dortmund just 15 million euros from Rennes last year, has been suspended by Dortmund since he boycotted training on August 10 in protest after the German club rejected Barca’s first bid.
“The club is working on the incorporation of players and when there is a definitive decision we will make an official announcement that explains the situation,” Barca’s general manager Pep Segura told BeIN Sports Spain.
German newspaper Bild reported Dortmund could make an official announcement at midday (1000GMT) on Friday.
Barcelona-based sports daily Mundo Deportivo claimed Barca are hopeful of presenting Dembele at the Camp Nou on Sunday or Monday.
The saga also cost Dembele his place in the France squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers against the Netherlands and Luxembourg on Thursday.
“Ousmane hasn’t trained for a fortnight and he’s waiting to see if the transfer will go ahead or won’t go ahead,” said France coach Didier Deschamps.
Barca are in desperate need for reinforcements since being caught cold by Neymar’s decision to join Paris Saint-Germain for a world record 222 million euros earlier this month.
With just a week to go before the transfer window closes, the Catalan giants have had several attempts to land Dembele and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho rebuffed, piling pressure onto already beleaguered president Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Following Barca’s 5-1 aggregate thrashing by Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup, the hashtag “bartomeudimiteya” (Bartomeu resign now) was a trending topic worldwide on Twitter.
A growing split between Barca’s top players and board was also evidenced this week as the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez posted photos on social media of them partying with Neymar just hours after the club announced they are suing the Brazilian for breach of contract.
Barcelona were powerless to stop Neymar’s move to PSG earlier this month as the French side met the buyout clause in his contract.