Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says he's against banishing Ousmane Dembele to the stands if he doesn't renew his contract with the club.
Dembele's current deal expires next summer and as of Jan. 1 he will be free to negotiate a pre-contact agreement with other clubs.
Barça had considered confining the Frenchman to the stands in the event he decided to run his contract down, as they did with Ilaix Moriba, but Xavi says he would not support that.
"If he has a contract, he has to play," the Barca coach said on Friday. "I am very clear on that -- and also because of what it means for the image of the club.
"But I am not contemplating [Dembele not renewing], I am staying positive. It's not just a financial issue, either, but also about the project sporting as well."
Negotiations are ongoing with Dembele's camp and Barça and Xavi have both made their position clear: they want him to renew his term and stay at Camp Nou.
"He can be the best in the world in his position, but it depends on him," Xavi added. "As I say, it's not just money, it's sporting, he wants to be an important part of the project, to be loved. And he will be here."