Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele says he will “not give in to blackmail” after the club told the Frenchman he must leave in the January transfer window.
Dembele is out of contract in the summer, meaning Barcelona face the prospect of losing him on a free transfer if he sees out the season in Catalonia.
The 24-year-old said on Instagram: “As of today, I’m going to answer honestly without giving in to any form of blackmail.
“I forbid people from thinking that I’m not committed to this sporting project. I forbid people from attributing intentions to me that I’ve never had.
“I forbid people from speaking for me or my agent, who I have total confidence in. I’m still under contract, I’m fully committed and at the disposal of the club and my coach.
“I’ve always given everything for my team-mates and also for all the fans. That’s not going to change now.
“I’m not a man who cheats and even less so one who’s used to giving in to blackmail.
“Love can certainly be a variant of blackmail.”
Dembele’s comments come after Barcelona’s director of football, Mateu Alemany, said he wants to leave the club after refusing to sign a new contract.
Dembele turned down Barcelona’s attempt to sign him to a new deal as the terms on offer were lower than his current contract. He was left out of the squad for Thursday’s match at Athletic Bilbao.
Alemany said on Thursday: “With Ousmane and with his agents we began conversations in the month of July, during all this time, it has been six months almost seven months, we have talked, we have spoken, Barca has made different offers, we have tried to find a way for him to continue with us.
“Those offers have been systematically rejected by their agents. And today, January 20, 11 days before the end of the last term within his contract, it is evident, it seems obvious to us, that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona and therefore is not committed to Barca’s future project.
“In this scenario, he and his agents have been told that he must leave immediately, because we want players committed to this project, and therefore we expect a transfer before January 31.
“The sporting consequence of all this, valued by the technicians and by our coach, is that we do not want to have with us players who are not committed to the project and who do not want to be at Barca and therefore the fact that he is not called up is no more than a consequence of this whole process.
“The club obviously is not the one that should determine this, it is the coach who has determined it, but he has our support and we think it is a totally coherent attitude.”
Dembele joined the club from Borussia Dortmund for £135m – just weeks after Neymar’s world-record move to Paris Saint-Germain – but has struggled with injuries for much of his time in Spain.
The 2018 World Cup winner has started just six matches this season and his only goal came in the Copa del Rey victory at third-tier Linares earlier this month.
Dembele’s involvement has increased dramatically since Xavi replaced Ronald Koeman as manager in November, however, with all but one of his 11 appearances this season coming under the former Barcelona midfielder.
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