Madrid (AFP) – Xavi Hernandez is still hopeful Ousmane Dembele will decide to stay at Barcelona, insisting the Frenchman would not be happier anywhere else.
Dembele’s contract expires in the summer and a new deal is yet to be agreed, with Barca’s negotiating power hampered by debts of more than 1 billion euros ($1.13 billion).
Renewing the 24-year-old’s contract on reduced terms would also allow Barcelona to register new signing Ferran Torres. Torres has signed from Manchester City but currently cannot play due to La Liga’s spending limits.
“I am hoping that he makes an effort,” said Xavi in a press conference on Tuesday. “This sporting project is the best one for him. He will not be as happy anywhere else as he is at Barca. We are going to see what he decides.
“I am calm and waiting for news. It does not depend on me. It depends on the club, the player and the agents.”
The signing of Torres from City has further lifted the mood at Barcelona, who climbed to fifth in La Liga on Sunday after winning 1-0 at Mallorca.
They are now just a point behind Atletico Madrid in fourth, while Barca president Joan Laporta said on Monday the club are “back” and ready to compete again for the world’s best players.
“We are fifth and we’re coming back little by little,” Xavi said. “We are working on our style of play. The signing of Ferran Torres allows the fans to breathe as well. We are working practically 24/7.
“We have to follow the president’s lead because it’s a positive message to say that we are back. That’s the mentality we want. If we sink into misery, that won’t achieve anything.”
Barcelona play at Segunda B side Linares Deportivo on Wednesday in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey, a competition they have won five times in the last seven years.
Xavi said Memphis Depay and Ansu Fati are not yet ready to return from injury but that they could be available to face Granada in La Liga on Saturday.
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