Borussia Dortmund have toughened their stance on Ousmane Dembele, forcing the Frenchman to train alone as he remains suspended. This comes amid growing speculation that the 20-year-old will join Spanish club Barcelona.
Ousmane Dembele has been told to train alone by Borussia Dortmund as his suspension for missing training was extended by the club.
The Frenchman is a prime target for Barcelona and the decision to ban him "until further notice" from the first team was made by coach Peter Bosz, sport director Michael Zorc and chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke following Saturday's German Cup win at Rielasingen-Arlen.
"Our focus is now on preparing the team for the opening match of the season next weekend in Wolfsburg," Zorc told the club's homepage.
"Ousmane Dembele can always undertake individual training away from the group."
Dembele, whose Dortmund contract runs to 2021, did not turn up for training last Thursday and was subsequently removed from the squad for the cup opener.
Dortmund later said they had rejected a transfer bid from Spanish giants, who are also chasing Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho after Neymar's 222 million euro release clause was triggered by Paris Saint-Germain.
Dortmund now face the dilemma of trying to keep Dembele or maximise the transfer value of a player who seems to have decided his future lies elsewhere.
Barcelona reportedly had a 90 million euro bid for the 20-year-old rejected last week, a 75 million increase on the fee the Bundesliga side paid Rennes for the attacker last year.
And even Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness has chimed in, voicing his support for how Bayern's Bundesliga rivals have handled the situation.
"I think that Dortmund have behaved very sensibly," he said. "You must as a big club, as Dortmund now are, also show strength at times and say 'either we get what we want or he has to stay here.'"
mds/mp (dpa, Reuters)