Barcelona are close to completing their fifth and sixth signing of the summer after the Catalan club's general manager Pep Segura confirmed that deals for Ousmane Dembele and Philippe Coutinho are close. The former Liverpool academy technical manager was speaking after the club's 5-1 aggregate loss to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday (16 August).
The La Liga side have thus far made four additions to the squad – Nelson Semedo, Gerard Deulofeu, Marlon Santos and Paulinho. But they lost a key player in Neymar, who joined Paris Saint-Germain in a world-record €222m (£198m) deal.
Barcelona are now looking at alternatives to fill the void left by the Brazilian and have identified Dembele as the perfect replacement and have made contact with his current employers Borussia Dortmund about a move this summer. The German club have rejected the Spanish outfit's opening bid but are willing to sanction a move if their valuation of around €150m is met.
The Camp Nou outfit are said to have returned with an improved second bid and agreed a base fee of €100m (£90.8m) but are yet to agree on the performance based add-ons with Dortmund asking for around €30m. Dembele is keen to move and is trying to force a move by skipping training, which has earned him a suspension.
Coutinho, on the other hand, has been on Barcelona's radar since last season and a move for the Brazilian was planned before Neymar's departure. The La Liga club views the Liverpool midfielder as a long-term replacement for Andres Iniesta, who is in the final year of his contract.
Barcelona have had a bid for Coutinho rejected by the Premier League side, and the Reds have made it clear that he is not for sale. But the former Inter Milan midfielder is keen on a move and has handed in a transfer request to force through a move to the Camp Nou this summer. The Spanish giants remain confident that they can reach an agreement with Liverpool.
"Coutinho and Dembele are both close. We are hopeful that they will end up wearing the Barca shirt," Segura said in the aftermath of Barcelona's disappointing loss to Real on Wednesday (16 August), as quoted by Goal.
"Until deals are closed I can't say anything. We know we have to help the team and reinforce it and that's what we are doing," the Barcelona general manager added.
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde, meanwhile, was unsure if the deals for Dembele and Coutinho will be completed before the start of the La Liga season on 18 August. The Catalan club take on Real Betis in their opening game on Sunday (20 August).
"I don't know," was Valverde's response to the question about deals for Dembele and Coutinho being completed, as quoted by the Daily Mail.