Barcelona sign Aubameyang, no move for Dembele

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It was a mix of good and bad news for Barcelona at the end of the winter transfer window.

The Catalan club came close to making the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang official after striking a deal with the Arsenal striker just before the deadline, but they were unable to displease striker Ousmane Dembélé for leaving and will likely have to keep the Arsenal forward. France. until he ends his contract in June.

It was around 12:30 p.m. in Barcelona when president Joan Laporta emerged from the club’s offices with a thumbs-up gesture and right fist raised in the air after reportedly closing the deal with Aubameyang. . The striker left moments later, sporting a wide smile and also giving a thumbs-up gesture.

The transfer window closed at midnight, but Barcelona bought some extra time to make the deal official because Aubameyang reportedly became a free agent before the deadline. The official announcement was expected on Tuesday.

Aubameyang arrived in the Catalan city earlier in the day to finalize negotiations with Barcelona after being stripped of his captaincy at Arsenal for disciplinary reasons. According to reports, he returned late from a personal trip.

The Gabonese striker attended the African Cup of Nations but did not play after being diagnosed with heart injuries during his recovery from coronavirus.

Aubameyang, 32, Arsenal’s highest-paid player, reportedly had to take a hefty pay cut to join Barcelona as the club doesn’t have much salary-cap space.

He has been slowly restructuring his finances after failing to keep Lionel Messi at the end of last season. Barcelona recently signed Spanish international Ferran Torres only after defender Samuel Umtiti agreed to take a pay cut similar to cuts other players in the squad had to accept last year.

Barcelona also brought back striker Adama Traoré on loan from Wolverhampton until the end of the season, and re-signed veteran Brazilian defender Dani Alves after one season in Brazilian football.

Aubameyang’s arrival will help Barcelona make up for the loss of Sergio Agüero, who had to retire last year due to a heart condition.

Barcelona told Dembélé that he had to find a new team after his agents rejected several offers to renew his contract in the last six months. Director of football Mateu Alemany said the club only wanted “players committed to the future of the team”.

Dembélé said he would not give in to blackmail and left open the possibility of staying at Barcelona, ​​​​which would have set a fee of 20 million euros (22.3 million euros) for the 24-year-old striker, who can leave for free. . when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Spanish media said that Paris Saint-Germain was negotiating a possible transfer of the player, and Laporta said that there were talks about a negotiation with an English club. The club president hinted that the deal depended on Dembélé accepting it.

Barcelona broke their own record by signing Dembélé from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 in a deal, including add-ons, worth €147m (then $175m). Many fans questioned the transfer as it consumed a good chunk of the €220m (then $262m) Barcelona received from PSG for Neymar just weeks earlier.

Dembélé was injured for long periods of his first two seasons and established himself as a regular starter only the last period. He has played sparingly this season due to injuries and the coronavirus.

Barcelona said Dembélé “did not show up” for his last league game before the international break “due to an upset stomach”. Before, coach Xavi Hernández had not included him for a Copa del Rey match.

In the previous transfer window, Barcelona were able to clear some salary-cap space by sending French striker Antoine Griezmann on loan to Atletico Madrid.

The defender of the signing of Atlético

Atletico, the defending Spanish league champions, have acquired Mozambican left-back Reinildo Mandava from French club Lille on a contract until 2025.

Atlético said that the “very strong player… is very difficult to beat and very forceful in one-on-one.” The 28-year-old defender played in Portugal before joining Lille in 2019.

Financial details of the deal were not immediately available.

Gil to Valencia

Valencia reached an agreement for the transfer of the young Spanish international Bryan Gil from Tottenham until the end of the season. The 20-year-old striker did not have many minutes at the English club.

Gil won a silver medal with Spain at the Tokyo Olympics last year and was a member of the Spain Under-19 squad that won the 2019 European Championships. He previously played for Sevilla, Eibar and Leganés in Spain.

Villareal loan Lo Celso

Villarreal reached an agreement for the loan of Argentine midfielder Giovani Lo Celso from Tottenham until the end of the season, while Mallorca signed Kosovar striker Vedat Muriqi on loan from Lazio, also until the end of the season.

Unsurprisingly, league leaders Real Madrid made no major moves on the final day of the transfer window, with their focus still on signing France star Kylian Mbappé when his contract with PSG expires. in June.

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