Former Barcelona striker Hristo Stoichkov has hit out at forward Ousmane Dembele who been told to leave the club after failing to agree a new contract at the Camp Nou.
Stoichkov spoke to TUDN and made it clear he has little sympathy for Dembele and applauded Xavi’s decision to leave him out of the team for the Copa del Rey trip to Athletic, as reported by Marca.
“If you don’t want to be at Barcelona, at least don’t tarnish the badge,” he said. “Xavi, I applaud you for not taking him into the dressing room, because that dressing room deserves respect; it has 121 years of history. Mr. Laporta, open the door. Let people who don’t feel the colours go; I sweated for that shirt.”
The Bulgarian also claimed that Dembele has never taken time out to understand Barcelona, something he says he did when he was at the Camp Nou as a foreign player in Spain.
“Dembele never understood what Barcelona is,” he said. “I got involved as a foreigner to find out what the club was, from the time of Kubala, Carrasco, Lineker, Jose Mari Bakero and Julio Salinas. They all knew the story, you never did.”
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Xavi Plays Down Dembele Absence
Dembele was left out of the Barcelona squad to face Athletic in the Copa del Rey last 16 on Thurday, January 20. There was disappointment for the Catalans as they were knocked out of the tournament after going down 3-2 after extra-time.
Xavi spoke to reporters after the match and played down Dembele’s absence from the game, insisting it had no impact on the result at San Mames, as reported by Diario Sport.
“I don’t think Dembele’s situation had an effect,” he said. “He is an important player for us but it’s a decision taken by the club, we don’t make decisions unilaterally. I think I explained the situation well yesterday.”
Dembele Camp ‘Surprised’ By Barcelona’s Stance
Meanwhile, those close to Dembele are said to be surprised by Barcelona’s stance. The forward’s camp “don’t understand” Xavi’s decision to drop the forward and feel he’s being pressured by the club, according to Diario Sport.
Dembele’s agent Moussa Sissoko, who has been critical of the club’s behavior during contract talks, is also hoping for a fresh meeting next week to try and find a solution to the current situation.
Albert Masnou at Sport reports that Dembele and Sissoko have not given up hope of further negotiations and are planning a fresh attempt to find an agreement for the forward whose current deal is up at the end of the season.