The Blaugrana president has previously suggested that the French forward is destined to leave this summer, but he is now calling for fresh terms

Barcelona president Joan Laporta hopes Ousmane Dembele can be convinced to sign a contract extension at Camp Nou despite previously suggesting that the World Cup-winning forward was destined to leave as a free agent in the summer.

The 24-year-old France international has ignored all attempts to get him tied down on fresh terms this season, with interest in his services from outside of Catalunya building steadily as he runs down his current deal.

No official agreement has been reached with any interested party, though, and with Dembele still figuring in Xavi’s plans over recent weeks, there is a chance that he could be talked into prolonging his association with the Liga heavyweights.

Laporta told reporters when quizzed on Barca’s plans: “Dembele knows our offer and knows that we always wanted him to stay. We hope he will think again at the end of the season.

“Ive always said it, for me hes one of the best in his position and well see what happens at the end of the season. For now lets focus on this season, we have a lot to say both in the Europa League and in the league.

“In football, you can never rule anything out. Look, he could not play and now he plays, and he plays well. But his contract extension does not depend on me.”

Back on February 1, after the winter transfer window closed without a departure for Dembele being put in place, Laporta said: “We offered him the renewal, with a very good offer. Later it turned out that it was an economic issue, that he wanted more.

“We told him that we wanted to renew, but the issue became stuck. The agent took a position of not saying anything and that has consequences. We have done our best.

“We presented him with two proposals and they were good. We are very surprised that he did not accept. The last one was from an English club and he did not want to go, he preferred to stay here for six months.

“It is not good neither for him nor for the club, because his renewal gave us salary margin and we would not have been having to work until the last minute.

“The whole Dembele thing is difficult to understand. Xavi is working and has to think about next season. We think he has an agreement with another club. Thats what his agent has insinuated to us. We will act for the good of the club.”

Dembele has figured in five games for Barca since opting against pushing for a winter move elsewhere, with a first goal since that saga was brought to a close scored last time out in a 4-0 victory over Athletic Club.

Xavi has never hidden his faith in the Frenchman’s ability and is another of those clinging to the belief that a summer exit can be avoided.

The Barcelona boss said of Dembele: “He is a great professional. Lets encourage him.

“Its not a question for me, its a question for the club, for Ousmane.”

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