Chelsea transfer blow as Barcelona boss Xavi praises ‘difference-maker’ Ousmane Dembele amid contract stand-off

CHELSEA’S hopes of signing Ousmane Dembele appear to have suffered a blow after he was hailed as a “difference-maker” by Barcelona boss Xavi.

The 24-year-old has been free to speak to overseas clubs since January 1 with his contract set to expire in June.

He cost Barcelona a mega £138 million from Borussia Dortmund back in 2017 but his time at the Nou Camp has been widely-viewed as a flop.

President Joan Laporta slammed Dembele for turning down a deadline day offer from England.

The Frenchman was heavily linked with a switch to the Premier League before the January window closed.

Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United were all mentioned as possible destinations, while Paris Saint-Germain were also keen.

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No move materialised, however, leaving Dembele to remain at Barcelona for the final five months of his contract.

He was then booed by his own supporters at the Nou Camp after that – however he has begun to produce some impressive displays over recent weeks.

That has sparked Chelsea’s interest again, however recent reports state that the star could stay at the Catalan giants after accepting a pay cut instead of joining heading to Stamford Bridge.

Dembele did want a new contract to be worth £67million but in a change of heart he may lower his wage demands.

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A meeting will allegedly take place in the coming days between Dembele's agent and Barca representatives as they aim to agree a deal.

And now Xavi has hinted that the attacker will be staying as he hailed his recent displays following his star performance in the victory over Celta Vigo on Tuesday.

Dembele has only scored twice this term in 31 appearances for the LaLiga outfit, but Xavi is more concerned about his overall play rather than personal stats as he lavished praise on his ace.

He said: “Ousmane Dembele is making the difference for us – and it’s not just about his goals.”

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