Barcelona want to keep hold of Manchester United target Ousmane Dembele, according to Ronald Koeman.
The France international was linked with a season-long loan switch to Old Trafford last summer, and has reportedly remained on the club’s radar ever since.
Dembele emerged as an alternative to Jadon Sancho, a player United spent much of the close-season pursuing.
The Red Devils are expected to seek a winger when the transfer market reopens for business at the end of the campaign.
Dembele is out of contract in 2022 and could be available for a knock-down fee if he is unable to agree fresh terms with Barcelona.
However, Koeman has sent a warning to United by stating that he wants to keep hold of the 23-year-old.
But the Dutchman did acknowledge that the decision could be taken out of his hands, as recruitment is generally dealt with by Koeman’s superiors.
“He’s an important player,” the manager said. “He’s shown that with his performance here [against Real Valladolid] and above all with the goal that gave us three points. Ousmane’s development this season has been really good.
“Physically, he’s improved a lot; I think that’s been the key to his quality and consistency to play so many games. So, yes, if it’s up to me, I would like him to stay with us.”
United will not give up hope just yet, though, particularly as Barcelona’s finances have been hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Blaugrana are said to have debts worth more than €1 billion, and that could impact their dealings this summer.
Lionel Messi is out of contract on June 30 and Barcelona’s priority is tying their greatest ever player down to an extension.
That could leave the club needing to raise funds from elsewhere, and Dembele is among their most sellable assets.
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