Borussia Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke has accused Barcelona of exerting undue influence upon Ousmane Dembele as the transfer saga concerning the France winger rumbles on.
Dembele missed Dortmund’s 3-0 win at Wolfsburg on the opening day of the Bundesliga season after being suspended by the club on the back of missing training without consent.
The 20-year-old’s absence last week came as Dortmund rejected an initial bid from Barcelona, who have settled upon Dembele as a prime target in their bid to fill the void left by Neymar’s world-record departure to Paris Saint-Germain.
Speaking to Sky, Watzke spoke witheringly of “glorious” Barcelona, accusing the Catalan club of playing a central role in the stand-off.
“It is not that Ous is making fun of us, he simply declines to do his job. That is a new quality,” Watzke said.
“And we should talk about the role of glorious FC Barcelona in this matter.
“On Wednesday [last week] we met with Barcelona’s officials. Our positions were very far away from each other. Then, on Thursday, he did not show up at the training.
“The timing of these events is very curious. You don’t believe a 20-year-old will refuse to go to training without his possible new club liking that?”
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Watzke echoed the position of Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc in stating Barcelona know the fee they must meet in order to sign Dembele, who will have to apologise to his team-mates if his future remains in the Bundesliga.
“They must pay the fee we want for this player, who has four years left on his contract, after they received €222million for Neymar.
“If they match our requirements soon then there will be a transfer. Otherwise, there won’t be.
“Dembele would have to apologise to the team and the club. Then it is possible, of course [that Dembele has a future in Dortmund].”
Watzke also added his voice to a growing rump of opinion that the transfer window should end before the season starts to stop issues such as those surrounding Dembele’s future from lingering after the big kick-off.
“I am of the opinion that UEFA and the ECA (European Club Association) should jointly decide that the transfer window does not end in the season.
“It would mean we could all talk about soccer, about the season – something all fans could look forward to.
“We should all talk about football again and not have this monkey business.”
Reports in Barcelona late on Saturday suggested Barca were poised to end their increasingly tortured pursuits of Dembele and Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho and turn their attention towards Nice midfielder Jean Seri.