Football: Borussia Dortmund CEO hits out at Barcelona’s ‘manipulation’ of AWOL Ousmane Dembele

Borussia Dortmund's chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke on Sunday

Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund’s chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke on Sunday accused Barcelona of manipulating Ousmane Dembele in a bid to force the German club to sell the wantaway winger to the Spanish giants.

Dortmund suspended Dembele indefinitely a week ago when the 20-year-old boycotted training after the German club rejected an initial bid from Barcelona.

Watzke has accused the Spanish giants of influencing the France international to force Dortmund’s hand.

Barcelona want to sign Dembele and Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho to replace Neymar, who left for Paris Saint-Germain, but Dembele has a contract until 2021 with Dortmund.

Reports claim the Germans want €130 million (S$208 million) for the player they paid French Ligue 1 side Rennes €15 million last year.

Dortmund have made it clear they will only sell Dembele if their price is met and Watzke is less than impressed with the role Barcelona are playing in the transfer saga.

“You have to talk about the role of the ‘glorious’ club Barcelona,” Watzke told Sky. “We met with their representatives, which commanded the respect, which I still had back then a few weeks ago, of such a big and serious club.

“In doing so, we found out that our ideas (over the price) are very far apart and therefore, such a big gap could not be crossed.

“Then completely out of the blue, he didn’t come to training.

“Do you honestly believe that a 20-year-old, without the benevolence of a new club, says ‘I’m not coming to training.’

“Ousmane wouldn’t have done that for any other club in the world – we know that now.”

Watzke says the chance of Dembele leaving is less than ’50 per cent’ and if he stays, the Frenchman will have to apologise to the Dortmund squad, some of whom have been highly critical of his actions.

Dembele has already packed up his house in Dortmund and moved back to France.

“Ousmane isn’t dancing around us, he is simply refusing to work,” said the 58-year-old Watzke.

“That is obviously something new, he has gone on strike and has been suspended.

“There are now two possibilities.

“Either Barcelona pay the sum we have imagined and if they meet our demands promptly, the transfer will go ahead.

“We will not negotiate.

“And if they don’t pay, then he will be back as of Sept 1 and I am sure he will really want to play then.

“However, if that happens, he will really have to apologise to the club and the team.

“The fact the team is distancing itself from his behaviour is normal.

“Ousmane is actually a nice bloke and what he is doing is, of course, not on, but I also did a lot of s*** when I was 20 and if all that butter was smeared on bread today, it would make a fat sandwich.”

Dembele sat out Dortmund’s 3-0 thumping of Wolfsburg on Saturday when US international midfielder Christian Pulisic, 18, took his place on the right wing and promptly scored and set up a goal in an impressive display.

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