After weeks of waiting and a lot of patience, Barcelona know exactly what Ousmane Dembele's plans are. He's decided not to accept their renewal offer and has told the club. It has not come as a surprise to the club, who for a while have sensed the player and his agent were buying time until January, when they could speak with other clubs about a free transfer in the summer.
A new scenario has opened now in which Barça will try, within their very small room for maneuver, to find a solution that brings in some return for them.
During negotiations with the player's camp, the club have made tweaks to their offer until arriving at a final proposal, which has been rejected. In fact, per club sources, Dembele has not moved an inch from his demands, which included a salary of 20 million euros gross per season (he currently earns 16 million gross), as well as a signing on bonus and commission for his agent, Moussa Sissoko. At no moment has there been a gesture from the Frenchman considering the club's financial situation.
Those that have been close to the talks are indignant with the way the player and his camp have handled the issue. They have no doubt that Dembele had decided what to do from the start and the negotiations have been a waste of time and energy.
Obviously, Barça consider the relationship over but will now look for a way to at least get some sort of financial return from the situation. There are three possibilities in the next 15 days.
The first is to close a transfer, albeit for a small fee, to save on Dembele's salary for six months and to bring in a bit of cash. That option, though, is basically ruled out because the player has made it clear he won't leave mid-seaason. The alternative being looked into by the club is to reach an agreement to rescind his contract and let him leave for free. In that scenario, they would save on his salary from Feb. 1. For that to be possible, though, the player would have to agree. A unilateral rescission would likely end up in court. In this sense, Dembele could accept a fixed sum and bring forward his movie to his new club. It doesn't seem too realistic as an option, either.
Not even the threat of staying in the stands for six months ahead of the World Cup in Qatar scares the forward. Although Xavi's not in favour of that option because he doesn't want to generate a problem in the dressing room or lose talent on the pitch. It's a strange situation, as has been the case with Dembele's career at Barça.
Barça have not ruled out signing Alvaro Morata but for that to happen they need to reduce the wage bill as soon as possible. After not accepting their renewal offer, the club believe a Dembele departure this month would allow them to make room for Morata, currently on loan at Juventus from Atletico Madrid. Sergi Roberto's renewal would also create space. If both these things happen, Morata would be much closer to Camp Nou.