Barcelona's opening offer of €35m (£27.1m, $39m) to sign Rennes starlet Ousmane Dembele has been turned down, according to France Football. The French publication reports sources close to the Ligue 1 side as confirming that an offer has been made, adding that the Catalan outfit face stiff competition from the likes of Manchester City and Bayern Munich, who are also monitoring the player's progress.
Luis Enrique has been looking for a versatile forward to back-up his MSN trio –Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar – since the departure of Pedro Rodriguez to Chelsea during the 2015 summer transfer window. Barcelona officials made an effort in the January mercato to sign Nolito, but Celta Vigo refused to part ways with the Spain international.
With Nolito already being 29-year-old, Sport reported last week that Dembele had emerged as Barca's new number one priority for the summer window, following an impressive breakthrough campaign in Ligue 1. He has netted nine goals in 18 league appearances since making his full debut in November.
The reported added that Barcelona scouts were in attendance at the recent game between Rennes and Nantes, and the teenager impressed by bagging a first-half hat-trick as his team cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Dembele's agent, Badou Sambague, later sparked rumours by admitting the player would struggle to reject a move to the Nou Camp, although he admitted there had been no direct contact as yet.
"There is absolutely nothing, but I also confess that if Barcelona call you, you cannot say no," Sambague admitted to Mundo Deportivo. "We know there were scouts not only from Barcelona, but also some from several English clubs, as [Rennes] explained to me."
France Football now claims Barca have made the next step in securing the player, tabling an opening bid of €35m for his services. However, sources close to Rennes say the bid was turned down as the club predict a big summer auction for their hot prospect, with both Manchester City and Bayern ready to break out the chequebooks.
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