Barcelona are being cautiously optimistic about tying down Ousmane Dembele to a new long-term contract with the player said to be keen on staying at the Camp Nou beyond next summer. The Frenchman's current contract expires in June 2022 and he will be allowed to negotiate with clubs outside Spain when the January transfer window opens.

The Catalan club have been in talks with Dembele for a number of months but have failed to make a breakthrough. The France international and his representatives have not responded to the club's offer on the table, as they continue to assess all his options before committing to a new deal. Xavi Hernandez, who took over from Ronald Koeman, has made tying down the 2018 World Cup winner to a new deal a priority.

Dembele will be able to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club outside Spain when the winter transfer window opens on Jan 1, and he will certainly not be short of suitors. Manchester United and Liverpool from the English Premier League are big admirers, as are Italian giants Juventus and Bavarian big boys Bayern Munich.

Ousmane Dembele
On the front foot: Ousmane Dembele set France on the way to victory with the opening goal in Kazakhstan FRANCK FIFE/AFP

All the aforementioned clubs are ready to offer him a lucrative deal along with a hefty signing bonus to run his contract down and leave Barcelona on a free transfer in June next year. The Catalan giants' director of football Matheu Alemany, however, remains optimistic that Dembele will accept their offer despite ignoring it thus far.

With Ousmane we've been speaking for a few months, they know what we think," Alemany said, as quoted on Barca Blaugranes. "His desire is to stay at Barca, his agents too and they are following the project. They tell me they are happy with Xavi's arrival, I am especially optimistic with Dembele and I hope he stays."

Dembele has played just 25 minutes of football all season having sustained a knee injury during this summer's European Championship with France. He returned to action in October, but lasted just under half an hour before sustaining another injury, which has kept him out ever since.

Xavi has indicated that he is close to making his return to action, but the club are keen not to rush him and risk another setback. Barcelona take on Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday night before facing Villarreal in the league on Saturday.

Xavi Hernandez is the leading contender to take over from Ronald Koeman KARIM JAAFAR/AFP