Barcelona were hoping to seal the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and find a buyer in Ousmane Dembélé on Monday, the last day of the winter transfer window in Spain.
Aubameyang has arrived to finalize negotiations with the Catalan club after being stripped of his captaincy at Arsenal for disciplinary reasons. He would have returned late from a personal trip.
The Gabon striker went to the Africa Cup of Nations but did not play after being diagnosed with heart damage while recovering from coronavirus.
“We are trying to get there,” Barcelona president Joan Laporta has told Spanish media. “It’s complicated but there is still hope.”
Aubameyang, Arsenal’s highest-paid player, would take a big pay cut to join Barcelona as the club don’t have much salary cap space.
He has slowly restructured his finances after being unable to keep Lionel Messi at the end of last season. Barcelona recently signed Spain international Ferran Torres only after defender Samuel Umtiti accepted a pay cut similar to the cuts other players in the team had to take last year.
Barcelona have also brought back striker Adama Traore on loan from Wolverhampton until the end of the season.
Aubameyang’s arrival would help Barcelona make up for the loss of Sergio Aguero – who had to retire last year due to a heart condition – and the possible departure of Dembélé after he failed to reach to an agreement for his contract extension.
Two weeks ago, Barcelona told Dembélé they needed to find a new team after their agents rejected several offers made to the French player over the past six months. Football director Mateu Alemany said the club only wanted “players who are committed to the future of the team”.
Dembélé said he would not give in to blackmail and left open the possibility of staying at Barcelona, who have reportedly set a €20 million (€22.3m) fee for the 24-year-old striker, who can leave for free. when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Spanish media said Paris Saint-Germain were negotiating a possible transfer for the player, and Laporta said there was talk of a negotiation with an English club. The club’s president hinted that the deal was contingent on Dembélé agreeing.
Barcelona broke their own record when they signed Dembele from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 in a deal, including add-ons, worth 147 million euros (then $175 million). Many fans questioned the transfer as it used up a good chunk of the €220m (then $262m) Barcelona received from PSG for Neymar a few weeks before.
Dembélé was injured for long spells in his first two seasons and only established himself as a regular starter last season. He has played sparingly this season due to injuries and the coronavirus.
Barcelona said Dembélé was a ‘no-show’ in the report of his last league game before the international break ‘due to stomach aches’. Before that, coach Xavi Hernández didn’t include him for a Copa del Rey game.
GIL IN VALENCIA
Valencia have agreed to loan young Spanish international Bryan Gil from Tottenham until the end of the season. The 20-year-old striker hadn’t gotten many minutes at the English club.
Gil won a silver medal with Spain at the Tokyo Olympics last year and was a member of the Spain Under-19 squad that won the 2019 European Championship. He previously played for Sevilla , Eibar and Leganés in Spain.
League leaders Real Madrid and defending champions Atlético Madrid were not expected to take big steps.
AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed to this report.
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