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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Borussia Dortmund stand ground with Barcelona target Ousmane Dembele

'We are prepared to sell him and what we want is on the table,' says chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke.

Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele has been eager to join Barcelona. Bernd Thissen / AP Photo
Borussia Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele has been eager to join Barcelona. Bernd Thissen / AP Photo

Borussia Dortmund say they will not negotiate with Barcelona over a price for Ousmane Dembele as the clock keeps ticking in their stand-off with the want-away winger.

Dortmund suspended Dembele indefinitely on August 10 when the 20-year-old Frenchman boycotted training in protest after the German club rejected an initial bid from Barcelona.

The Spanish giants want to sign Dembele and Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho to replace Neymar, who left for Paris Saint-Germain for a record €222 million (Dh959m).

However, Dembele has a Dortmund contract until 2021 and reports claim the Germans want €130m for the player they paid just €15m to for Rennes last year.

"We are prepared to sell him and what we want is on the table," said Dortmund's chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke, putting the ball firmly in Barcelona's court.

"When it's not met, Dembele will stay with us. We will not negotiate."

Last week, no sooner had Barcelona's general manager Pep Segura said they were "close" to a deal with Dembele than Watzke fired back things "had not moved forward one millimetre".

Dembele has already quit his accommodation in Dortmund and moved back to France.

However, if he fails in his bid to join Barcelona Watzke says he will have to eat significant humble pie with the Borussia squad.

He was banned when Dortmund romped to a 3-0 win at Wolfsburg on Saturday in the opening Bundesliga match of the new season.

Christian Pulisic, Dembele's replacement on the right wing, scored and set up a goal in a superb display.

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Officially, Watzke says Barcelona have until August 31, when the transfer window closes, to raise their offer.

However, German daily Bild claim they have told Barcelona that they have until this Sunday to meet Dortmund's price.

The ongoing saga has seen Watzke join calls for the transfer window to close on August 1, rather than at the end of the month.

"In the summer, the fans look forward to the season and when it starts, it should be about football, not this theatre," he said.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge agrees.

"Uefa [European football's governing body] is already for it. The window should be closed when the leagues start, otherwise it's a bit strange," he said.

Having lost Robert Lewandowski in 2014 to arch rivals Bayern, all Dortmund players are now on water-tight contracts, which are regularly extended.

Dortmund's stance with Dembele is a warning to any of their top players who might be tempted by big-name clubs.

Particularly top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has made it clear he wants to play for Real Madrid one day.

Dembele's attitude has been widely condemned in Germany, where there is a suspicion that his behaviour has been heavily influenced by the Spanish giants.

"If Barcelona are behind it, then I have no respect for the club," Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness said.

Joachim Low says Dortmund are taking the correct stance over Dembele.

"I simply condemn it when a player who has a contract goes on strike and says that he wants to change clubs," said Germany's World Cup-winning manager.

"It is absurd when contracts are no longer worth anything. Dortmund's stance is absolutely right."

With Liverpool chasing Dortmund's US international Pulisic, Borussia must show their players who is boss, added Hoeness.

"You have to show your strength as a big club, like Borussia Dortmund, either they get what they are asking for or, if not, then he stays.

"You have to show everyone who is lord in the house."