Barcelona have officially completed a deal to sign Borussia Dortmund winger Ousmane Dembele for an initial £96.8m deal, potentially rising to £135.5m.
The Catalan club had been seeking top quality recruits following the exit of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for £200m. The deal for Dembele ranks as the second most expensive deal of all time now, following that Neymar transfer.
Dembele had only been at the German club for one season following a £15m transfer from Rennes in his home nation of France. The 20 year old has signed a five-year contract with Ernesto Valverde’s club including a release clause worth 400m euros (£369.6m).
The French international had an exceptional season with Borussia Dortmund last season, scoring 10 goals and assisting 21 goals as his side won the German Cup, along with reaching the Champions League quarter finals and finishing third in the Bundesliga.
“I’m very happy to be here. It has always been my dream to be at Barcelona and now I’m here I’m very happy.
“It is the best club in the world with the best players in the world.” Dembele said.
Extraordinarily, Rennes made more profit from their sell-on clause in Dembele’s transfer from Dortmund to Barcelona than they did in originally selling him to Dortmund.
His unveiling was greeted by 17,814 fans at Camp Nou on Monday to catch a glimpse of the club-record signing, who has inherited Neymar’s No. 11 shirt.
With Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi on board, Dembele is seen as more of a creator than a finisher, supplying to Barcelona’s stars. Their next target is Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, who they have failed with three bids for – the most recent of which was worth £114m. With Dembele lined up to play on the right flank, Coutinho would then be the creator from either a deep role or the left flank, completing Barcelona’s operation to replace Neymar.
Dembele, however, has rejected comparisons to Neymar, saying: “There’s a big difference between Neymar and me. I’ve been a professional for two years. Neymar is one of the best in the world. I am young and I’m trying to grow each day.
“I’ve not come to be Neymar’s replacement. Barca called me to occupy a position, and I have come to give my all in that position.”