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Ronald Koeman wants Ousmane Dembele to stay amid Man United interest

Ronald Koeman insists he wants ‘important’ Ousmane Dembele to stay at Barcelona next season – amid Manchester United and Juventus interest in star with just 12-months left on his contract 

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman has insisted he wants striker Ousmane Dembele to extend his stay in Catalonia, despite growing speculation of an imminent exit.

The French star is set to see his contract at the Nou Camp expire next summer, placing Barca in an awkward position for the upcoming transfer window.

Now, Koeman has moved to shore up Dembele’s position at the club by publicly stating how much he values his attributes, after the 23-year-old came to Barca’s aid on Monday night by scoring a 90th minute winner against Valladolid.

Ronald Koeman publicly confirmed he is hoping for Ousmane Dembele to stay at Barcelona

‘I would like Dembele to stay, he is an important player for us,’ the Dutch boss told reporters following the late victory, which placed Barca within a point of league leaders Atletico Madrid.

‘Today, he has shown that with his game and the goal. The key is that he has physically improved and has been able to play a lot of games in a row.’

Dembele was Barca's hero on Monday after scoring a 90th minute winner against Valladoilid

Dembele was Barca’s hero on Monday after scoring a 90th minute winner against Valladoilid

The uncertainty surrounding Dembele’s future means Barca must make a big call this summer, and sanction a sale should a contract extension not be agreed – or risk losing him for free in 12-months.

Many of Europe’s top clubs are now reported to be sniffing around the Frenchman, in hope of pulling off a cut-price deal for his signature.

Manchester United and Juventus are poised to be frontrunners in the race, and Barca are preparing themselves for a potential bidding war to break out. 

A huge amount of money was committed to bringing Dembele to Catalonia in 2017, after the club opted to make him their first marquee signing following the shock departure of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain.

Barca coughed up an initial £96m to bring the pacey forward in from Borussia Dortmund, in a deal which is set to reach a total £136m. 

Dembele has scored ten goals in all competitions for Barca so far in 2020/21 and is on course to break his best return of 14 goals in 2018/19, at the club in the coming weeks.