Ousmane Dembele stole the show for Barcelona during the team’s impressive 4-0 La Liga win over Athletic on Sunday, February 27 by coming on as a substitute and supplying three goals.
The Frenchman scored Barca’s second with an emphatic finish and then picked up two assists by laying on further goals for substitutes Luuk de Jong and Memphis Depay in the closing stages at the Camp Nou.
Center-back Gerard Pique was spotted seeking Dembele out to congratulate the forward after the final whistle, as reported by Mundo Deportivo. “You’ve done incredible work, man,” he said with a smile.
The win has propelled Barca back into the top four in La Liga. Xavi’s side are also just one point behind Real Betis in third place and do have a game in hand on Los Verdiblancos.
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Barcelona To Offer Dembele New Contract?
Dembele’s stellar showing has led to speculation that Barcelona could still attempt to keep the Frenchman at the Camp Nou. The 24-year-old is out of contract in the summer and able to leave as a free agent.
Yet Barca are “contemplating” offering Dembele a new two-year deal, as reported by Diario Sport. However, the Catalans would also need his agent to “remove his demands for a big signing on fee.”
Dembele has “reiterated to Xavi his desire to stay” at Barcelona but it’s still unclear if he will continue at the Camp Nou beyond the end of the season.
The two sides have so far been unable to agree terms on a new deal and president Joan Laporta has previously claimed he thinks Dembele already has an agreement in place with another club.
Laporta Softens Dembele Stance
However, Laporta does appear to have softened his stance towards Dembele following his return to the team and his match-winning cameo performance against Athletic on Sunday.
The president was asked about Dembele in the aftermath of the game and refused to rule out the possibility of the attacker staying with Barca. He said, “Dembélé knows our proposal and we have always wanted him to stay, we hope that at the end of the season he will reconsider.”
All of which means there will be plenty of scrutiny on Dembele between now and the end of the season. The 24-year-old may have impressed against Athletic but has only scored once and contributed five assists so far in 2021-22.
Dembele also faces fierce competition for minutes in the Barcelona attack with Xavi having a host of players available and currently in good form for the Catalan giants.
Memphis Depay returned from injury against Athletic and joins Dembele, Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Luuk de Jong, and Adama Traore as attacking options for Xavi.
The Barcelona coach is also expected to have Ansu Fati back before the end of the current campaign. The teenager is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury but is due back towards the end of April.