New Barcelona manager has stated that Ousmane Dembele can be "the best player in the world", as Newcastle United look to launch a bid for the player.
Dembele joined Barcelona off the back of Neymar's move to Paris Saint-Germain, with the Catalan giants spending well over £100m on the Borussia Dortmund winger. Since moving to LaLiga, however, the Frenchman has struggled to set in.
Many have labelled Dembele a flop and pointed to his signing as indicative of the culture now at the Camp Nou. The World Cup winner has had a torrid time with injuries and his contract is set to expire next summer.
But incoming boss Xavi disagrees with the dissenting view - and he's even targeted keeping Dembele as one of his first jobs.
“Dembele in his position can be the best player in the world,” the new boss said. "He has to be a world-class player. His renewal is a priority for me.
“It’s important to have a winning mentality and consistency. We have to help him.”
Newcastle have been linked with a move for the 24-year-old in recent weeks, following their takeover. The Magpies have struggled to score goals all season and are the only side in the Premier League without a win all season.
Previously, Liverpool were said to be keen on the Frenchman, while Manchester United and Arsenal have also held an interest in the past.
Xavi's claim that Dembele can become part of his first-team plans comes as a surprise to many, however.
While Dembele is phenomenally talented and enjoyed an explosive 2016/17 breakout season in the Bundesliga, he has been a monumental disappointment since moving to Spain. He has scored just 18 goals in 81 appearances over the last four years, as Barca have stagnated as a club.
Barcelona have recently tied down both Ansu Fati and Pedri to new contracts.
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