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Ousmane Dembele hits back at ‘blackmail’ as forward contests Barcelona version of events

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Ousmane Dembele during a Barcelona match in January 2022

Ousmane Dembele has issued a powerful response after Barcelona confirmed they are expecting to sell him before the end of the month.

Dembele’s future has been a hot topic for Barcelona for a number of months. He is out of contract at the end of the season. Signed for a nine-figure sum in 2017, losing him for free would be a big blow.

But Barcelona have been unwilling to meet his extortionate wage demands. And the situation reached boiling point on Thursday when their director Mateu Alemany confirmed the forward is up for sale.

“It seems obvious to us that the player does not want to continue at Barcelona,” Alemany said. “He is not committed to Barca’s future project.

“We told him and his agents that he must leave the club immediately. Barcelona only want to have players committed to the project.

“We expect a transfer to take place before January 31.”

It has led to heightened speculation over where Dembele may end up. Chelsea have been named as the early frontrunners; they could reunite him with his former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel.

There have also been links with the likes of Man Utd and Newcastle if he is to move to the Premier League.

It will be a busy couple of weeks to determine Dembele’s future. Immediately, he has been left out of Barcelona’s squad for their Copa Del Rey clash with Athletic Bilbao on Thursday.

While his teammates were preparing for that fixture, though, the 24-year-old was speaking up on his future.

In doing so, Dembele defended himself and his representatives and contradicted his club’s claims that he is no longer at their disposal. Rather, he insisted he is there for coach Xavi and complained of blackmail.

Ousmane Dembele issues Barcelona response

Dembele wrote on Instagram: “Hello, everyone. It’s been four years since I’ve stopped reading things about myself without ever trying to justify myself.

“Gossip about me has been piling up for four years. It’s been four years that people have spoken for me, shamefully lied with one sole purpose, the intention of harming me. I have been following my line of never answering for four years, of never justifying myself.

“Has it been a mistake? Surely. As of today, it’s over. Starting today, I will answer honestly, without giving in to any kind of blackmail.

“I am 24 years old and like every man, I have flaws, imperfections. I have lived through complex moments, injuries, Covid has affected me. Without the slightest training session, the mister has asked me and I have always complied… without question.

“Perform as well as I have always done because it is my PASSION. I am fully aware of my luck to dedicate myself to the most beautiful job in the world. Also, my message is transparent.”


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Dembele insists he’s involved

The 2018 World Cup winner continued: “I forbid anyone to give the impression that I am not involved in the sports project. I forbid anyone to attribute intentions to me that I have never had. I forbid anyone to speak for me or my representative, whom I trust completely.

“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 partners… it is not now that that is going to change. I am not a man who cheats and even less a man who has a habit of giving in to blackmail.

“Surely love is a variant of blackmail. As you know, there are negotiations. I let my agent handle it, it’s his turf. My field is the ball, simply playing soccer, sharing moments of joy with my colleagues and all members.

“Above all, let’s focus on the essentials: WIN.

“Take care of your own. Ousmane Dembele”

Dembele has scored 31 goals from 129 appearances in a Barcelona shirt. But there are now serious doubts as to whether he will add to them.

READ MORE – Euro Paper Talk: Barcelona in panic mode as Man Utd step in to snatch powerhouse

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Morocco Defeated Congo Mazembe 4-1 On Sunday To Qualify For The CAF Confederation Cup Final

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Moroccan club Renaissance Berkane scored three goals from the 79th minute to defeat Democratic Republic of Congo visitors TP Mazembe 4-1 on Sunday and qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup final.

Bakr el Helali gave Berkane a 10th-minute lead that lasted just 60 seconds before Phillippe Kinzumbi equalised in northeastern Morocco.

Mazembe were reduced to 10 men midway through the second half when Tandi Mwape was sent off and the late goal rush began when captain Larbi Naji put Renaissance in front a second time.

Youssef el Fahli converted an 88th-minute penalty to edge Berkane in front on goal aggregate and he put the outcome beyond doubt with another goal six minutes into added time.

Beaten 1-0 in the first leg last Sunday after conceding an added-time goal, Berkane triumphed 4-2 on aggregate and face Orlando Pirates from South Africa this Friday in the title decider in Uyo, Nigeria.

An hour before the match in Berkane kicked off, Pirates suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat by Al Ahly Tripoli from Libya, but advanced 2-1 on aggregate.

Berkane were runners-up in the 2019 Confederation Cup, won the competition the following season and are now appearing in a third final in four years.

Pirates came closest to winning the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League in 2015 when they finishing runners-up to Etoile Sahel from Tunisia.

Apart from pocketing $1.25 million dollars (1.2 mn euros), Confederation Cup winners qualify for a CAF Super Cup match against the CAF Champions League winners.

The Super Cup clash could be an all-Moroccan affair as Wydad Casablanca from the northwest African kingdom have qualified to meet Al Ahly of Egypt in the May 30 Champions League decider.

Berkane will be favourites against Pirates while the Champions League final will, controversially, be staged in Morocco.

El Helali half-volleyed a cross past goalkeeper Siadi Baggio to send a capacity crowd in the 10,000-seat Stade Municipal into a frenzy.

The celebrations were continuing when Mazembe levelled as Kinzumbi punished a poor first touch by Issoufou Dayo to race forward and slam a rising shot past goalkeeper Hamza Hamiani Akbi.

It took several minutes before angry Mwape left the field after 66 minutes, having flung his shirt on the pitch, and 11-time CAF title winners Mazembe collapsed in the closing stages.

Naji soared at the far post to nod a free-kick into the net, El Fahli calmly placed his penalty into the corner and then scored perhaps the easiest goal of his career with a tap into an unguarded net.

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“A stronger group” – Hull City coach assesses the potential scenario of losing key man amidst Tottenham and West Ham interest

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Hull City coach Tony Pennock, who is set to depart the Championship club, believes that the Tigers will be better prepared if Keane Lewis-Potter leaves this summer, than when Jarrod Bowen and Kamil Grosicki left back in January 2020. 

Hull saw their season take a dramatic turn for the worse when the influential pair departed midway through the 2019/20 campaign, with relegation to League One occurring in what remained of that season.

Lewis-Potter has emerged as one of the division’s brightest talents this season, chipping in with 12 league goals and a further four assists.

His consistent and starring performances have caught the eye of the higher division with Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham and Brentford all registering their interest in recent months.

Speaking to Hull Live, Pennock addressed the potential scenario of Lewis-Potter heading on to pastures new: “It’s tough, you just look at when we sold Jarrod and Kamil in January it had such a detrimental effect on the boys, more than us as staff. We knew it was going to happen at some stage.

“We felt lucky that we kept them for the first six months of the season. I think they looked around and thought who is going to score all the goals?

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“Will Keano going have the same effect on this group? I don’t think it will. Keane will be a massive loss but this group is a stronger group. Because of the relegation and because of what they’ve experienced over the past two years, I think they’ve got a good understanding of what’s needed.

“I think they’ll be better prepared for it.”

The verdict 

Hull lost all their creativity when Bowen and Grosicki departed midway through the 19/20 season, and whilst they looked in a safe position, they were eventually relegated.

Given the quality they now possess within the squad, coupled with the exciting summer ahead following the takeover, a repeat does not seem too likely.

Lewis-Potter has shown Premier League ability this season, proving to be a constant threat when the ball has been at his feet.

However, he has not been the only creative player within the side, with George Honeyman, Allahyar Sayyadmanesh and Ryan Longman all causing problems for opposing defences.

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