Injuries holding up 'Operation Exit' as Barcelona look to shed players

The players the Catalan club want to move on all have injury issues

| sport

Toni Juanmartí

Bad news never comes alone. And in Barça's case, that is certainly true. The club's delicate financial situation is one thing but injuries are not holding up possible player sales. The case of Samuel Umtiti, Philippe Coutinho and now Ousmane Dembele are killing outside interest and the restructuring of the squad.

Dembele has left the France camp on Monday after getting injured at the weekend. While it's not an especially serious injury -- although there's speculation he could be out for two months -- the setback will alarm clubs who were thinking of signing him, especially because of his injury history.

In the middle of a game of chess over his future, Dembele begins his holidays without having renewed. The Catalan club are clear that if he doesn't extend his deal, which expires in 2022, they will listen to offers. They don't want to lose him for free next year.

Barça already knew they were not in a strong negotiating position to sell Dembele, even more so after this injury, and fear he's happy to run his terms down and leave for nothing.

UMTITI AND COUTINHO

The Samuel Umtiti and Philippe Coutinho cases are more concerning. Especially Umtiti, whose knee has impeded him from being at his best since 2018. He played minutes this season but was not at the level required to keep his place in Ronald Koeman's side.

That means there is not strong interest in him and his high salary, signed before the 2018 World Cup win with France, makes it difficult for clubs to pay him what he earns. Barça had been desperate to renew his terms in 2018 due to interest from Manchester United.

It's more of the same with Coutinho. The Brazilian injured his knee in the final game of 2020 and has not played since. Arsenal, Everton and Leicester City have been linked, although they all want to see how he recovers from the injury. Keeping in mind the situation at Barça, the Catalan club are likely to accept a loan just to get the former Liverpool man of the wage bill for a year.

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