Ousmane Dembele failed to report for training at Borussia Dortmund on Thursday (10 August) amid fresh reports that he is set to join Barcelona in a deal that would see him replace Neymar at the Nou Camp and also follow the Brazilian as the second most expensive footballer in history.
Le Parisien understands that the two clubs are close to reaching an agreement worth €130m (£117.3m, $152.6m) - a fee that stands at almost €100m less than the one that took Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain but far exceeds the £89m that Manchester United paid to bring Paul Pogba back to Old Trafford last summer.
The French publication further claims that Dembele's entourage have now settled on a five-year contract with Barcelona that would see their client almost double his annual earnings at €10m gross per season.
If that initial report and subsequent follow-up from L'Equipe is to be believed, then the transfer is set to be concluded in a matter of hours.
Rumours over an imminent agreement were further fuelled after Dortmund manager Peter Bosz told reporters that Dembele had not shown up for training as expected and that the club had been unable to get in touch with him.
"Dembele didn't show up for training today," he said in a press conference. "We don't know where he is. We couldn't reach him today.
"I talked to Dembele yesterday. He told me he was in Paris with his friends. He did not say anything about a transfer. There was no sign yesterday that Ousmane would not be here today. We hope nothing terrible has happened."
Barcelona are said to have originally offered €90m for Dembele, only to be told by Dortmund that they would only consider selling for a fee well in excess of €100m. As per Le Parisien, that is partly due to Stade Rennais, who initially sold the player to BVB in May 2016 for €15m plus add-ons, possessing a lucrative 25% sell-on clause that looks set to net them a further €30m.
Barcelona also tried to sign Dembele last summer, before he moved to the Westfalenstadion and significantly enhanced his growing reputation by scoring 10 goals and providing 21 assists across all competitions. The 20-year-old has also earned seven senior international caps for France and teed up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's goal last weekend as Dortmund lost on penalties to Bayern Munich in the DFL-Supercup following a 2-2 draw.
Should he complete formalities as expected, then Dembele would follow Marlon Santos, Gerard Deulofeu and Nelson Semedo as the fourth new player to join Barcelona during the current window. A whole host of other high-profile attackers were linked with the role vacated by Neymar, including Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Paulo Dybala, Eden Hazard and Dele Alli.
Barcelona have also seen a second bid worth £90m for Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho rebuffed as they seek to source a long-term midfield replacement for Andres Iniesta.