Ousmane Dembele was brought on as a second-half substitute for Barcelona in their Europa League last-32 clash with Napoli and was fiercely booed by fans at the Camp Nou after rejecting a new contract
Ousmane Dembele was fiercely booed by Barcelona fans and hounded after his every touch during their Europa League clash with Napoli.
Supporters vented their frustration at the Frenchman on his first appearance at the Camp Nou in 2022, after he rejected the offer of a new contract and was subsequently told to leave in the January transfer window.
Dembele has remained a part of Xavi Hernandez ‘s squad but Barca fans were unhappy after he was summoned in the 65th minute, with the score 1-1.
Napoli midfielder Piotr Zielinski had given the Serie A side the lead midway through the first half before Ferran Torres equalised with a penalty in the second period.
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The Camp Nou faithful, who did give Dembele a smattering of applause following good work on the right wing shortly after coming on, went against Xavi’s plea to support the player, who has claimed he could still renew his deal before the end of the season.
As Dembele’s name was met with whistles and jeers when he was named on the bench against Atletico Madrid earlier this month, the Blaugrana boss said: “The fans were 10 of 10 and the support was brilliant throughout the game.
“But I would like them to support Ousmane, too. I’d ask them to stop booing him.”
The 24-year-old’s contract saga became a headline story throughout January, with his current deal expiring in June.
After claiming that Dembele had turned down their contract ultimatum, Barcelona sporting director Alemany stated that the winger “must leave the club as soon as possible.”
“We started negotiating with Ousmane’s agents some six months ago,” a stern Alemany told club media. “We have been in constant contact with them since regarding the club’s position, stating that the club wants the player to remain.
“He has been offered different deals, we have been on top of the situation. I believe it’s been long enough for the player to decide where his future lies.”
The Barca chief added: “He should probably leave as soon as possible both for his own good at Barca’s good. He has been informed as such and based on that, the coach’s technical decision is in line with the club’s position and how things have progressed.”
But Dembele stayed put amid links to Chelsea and Manchester United, and hinted that his future could still be with the Blaugrana.
“I will not allow anyone to give the impression that I am not involved in the sports project,” the former Borussia Dortmund star stated. “I will not allow anyone to speak for me or my representative, whom I fully trust.
“Still under contract, I am fully involved and at the disposal of my club, my coach. I have always given everything for my colleagues and also for all the club members.
“I am not going to change that now. I am not a man who cheats and still less a man who has the habit of giving in to blackmail.”