Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman has confessed he hopes to see forward Ousmane Dembele put an end to the speculation about his future by signing a new contract.
The 23-year-old has shaken off a lot of his injury struggles and enjoyed a fantastic campaign for Barcelona, and he popped up with a 90th-minute winner over Real Valladolid on Monday to move La Blaugrana just one point behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.
Barcelona 1-0 Real Valladolid: Player ratings as Ousmane Dembele bags all three points late on
Player ratings as Barcelona beat Real Valladolid 1-0 thanks to a late Ousmane Dembele goal.
Max Parsons|Apr 5, 2021
Bruno Fernandes 'pushing' Manchester United towards Nuno Mendes transfer
Manchester United could use Alex Telles as a bargaining chip to sign Nuno Mendes, with Bruno Fernandes pushing for a deal.
Mitch Wilks|Apr 5, 2021
Why Manchester United still must sell Jesse Lingard this summer
Manchester United still must sell Jesse Lingard this summer despite West Ham form because there is no place for him and he deserves to play regularly.
Jamie Spencer|2:30 PM GMT+1
Manchester United 2-1 Brighton: Player ratings from yet another Red Devils comeback
Player ratings from Man Utd's 2-1 win over Brighton, earned through goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.
Matt O'Connor-Simpson|Apr 4, 2021
His good form has not gone unnoticed, but numerous sides across Europe are believed to be keeping a close eye on Dembele in the hope of taking advantage of his expiring contract. He has two years remaining on his current deal and talks over fresh terms seem to be dragging on.
“Of course he is an important player, he has shown today with his game and especially with his goal," Koeman said (via Marca) when asked about his future. "Ousmane’s season has been very good, physically he has improved a lot, it is the key to his consistency. If it’s up to me, of course, I’d like him to stay with us.”
Barcelona are not blind to Dembele's abilities and are working hard to seal an extension. Fabrizio Romano states that president Joan Laporta has made securing his future one of his top priorities, but talks continue to drag on.
Mundo Deportivo recently took a deep dive on Dembele's situation. It's understood that both Manchester United and Juventus are following him closely and are already trying to put together offers, and Barcelona fear he could be swayed by the money on offer.
Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain are also thought to be monitoring things, and while their interest isn't as concrete as United or Juventus, both teams see a cut-price deal for Dembele as something they can't really pass up on.
Barcelona are keen to block out the noise and tie Dembele down to a new deal, but there is an awareness that if he does not sign on, he must be sold this summer while his value is at its highest.
Dembele has been one of the most important parts of Koeman's first team this season, although the stats sheet does not do him justice.
His return of ten goals and four assists in 36 appearances hardly gets the blood pumping, but even though he might not be racking up the numbers, it's his movement and creativity away from goal which has been hailed as the key to Barcelona's turnaround.