Barcelona have reportedly decided to postpone the potential signing of Ousmane Dembele until next summer following Borussia Dortmund's refusal to negotiate his departure. Mundo Deportivo claims however the La Liga giants plan to take the control of his future and get him to commit to the club now amid suggestions that Manchester United and Chelsea could also join the race.
Dembele, 20, emerged as one of the top targets of the Catalan side ahead of the summer transfer window after new manager Ernesto Valverde identified the signing of a pacy right-winger as a priority.
The France starlet turned down a move to Barcelona from Rennes during last summer's transfer window to move instead to Dortmund, amid concerns that his playing at the Nou Camp was going to be limited.
It has been said that the France starlet now feels ready to move to the La Liga giants after an impressive debut campaign in the Bundesliga, scoring 10 goals and providing 21 assists in 49 appearances.
Sport reported that the player had even already agreed a five-year-deal with Barcelona ahead of completing a move this summer, with the Catalans expecting to offer around €50m (£44m, $56m) plus €20m in add-ons to convince Dortmund to part ways with the player.
However, Dortmund director of football, Michael Zorc, reacted to those rumours on Thursday, telling Barcelona to forget about his signing the club's prized asset and threatening them with legal action.
"Ousmane Dembele has a long-term contract. There are no negotiations," Zorc said as quoted by WAZ. "Dembele will play for BVB in the coming season. If Dortmund is not contacted [by interested clubs], we could initiate a Fifa procedure."
Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona have therefore decided to alter their original plans and postpone the arrival of Dembele until the summer of 2018 – or even 2019.
Barcelona still think that Dembele is a priority for the future but believe that Dortmund will be more open to cashing in on the winger once they have enjoyed his services for one or two more campaigns.
Mundo Deportivo says that Barcelona now plan to 'block' the situation for now while getting the player to commit to them ahead of next summer in order to avoid the likes of Manchester United or Chelsea overtaking them in the race for his signature.
The Spanish publication claims that La Liga giants plan to speak with Dembele to convince him to snub other proposals and wait for a future move to the Nou Camp.
Barcelona may struggle to compete financially with United and Chelsea but Mundo Deportivo says that the club officials are still confident over the situation, as last summer Dembele promised them than one day he would be playing at the Nou Camp.
The new plan would also allow Barcelona to focus all their efforts on bolstering their midfield and at right-back as Valverde believes that those two positions are a more urgent priority. In this sense, PSG star Marco Verratti and Arsenal ace Hector Bellerin remain as their two top targets.