Ousmane Dembele's desired move to Barcelona appears to be all but a done deal. However, Borussia Dortmund's chairman, Hans-Joachim Watzke has stressed that while a deal is close, it hasn't yet been finalized.
Members of the German media waited with bated breath on Friday, as Borussia Dortmund Chairman Hans Joachim held a press conference at the Signal Iduna Park to announce how the club had done financially over the past year. The expectation was that he might confirm that Dortmund had sold want-away winger Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona.
However, Watzke declined to confirm the widely expected move, saying that while a deal was in the works, "it has not been finalized yet. We'll announce it when it is finalized."
Watzke also said that assuming Dembele does go, Dortmund would probably dip into the transfer market to try to find a replacement.
"But you can't replace an Ousmane Dembele (with a single player)," he said.
If and when the deal is completed, it is expected to be the second-most expensive football transfer ever - and by far the most ever paid for a Bundesliga player. Various media outlets have cited sources who said the initial fee would be 120 million euros ($142 million), possibly rising to as much as 150 million.
The Dortmund delegation at the Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday are thought to have held talks with their Barcelona counterparts, who were also present.
One way or the other, the issue should be decided by Sunday, which Dortmund have set as a deadline for Barcelona to meet their demands.
"If it does not happen by Sunday then the transfer is off the table," Watzke said recently. "They (Barcelona) know very well what we want. They can say if they want him or not. There are only two options."
Barca had already made a previous offer, but Watzke has said it didn't come close to what Dortmund are after. He also put the chance of a deal being completed at "under 50 percent" when speaking to German broadcaster Sky last weekend.
For his part, the 20-year-old Dembele, who moved to the Bundesliga from Stade Rennais for a reported 15 million euros a year ago, has been suspended by his club after he failed to turn up to training a couple of weeks ago as he looked to force through the Barca move.
Since then, Dortmund have won their only Bundesliga game, cruising past Wolfsburg 3-0.
Left off France squad
On Thursday, France coach Didier Deschamps left Dembele (seven caps, one goal) out of his squad for the upcoming international break. In his press conference to announce the squad, Deschamps said that nominating a player who had not trained with his club team for the past fortnight was simply out of the question.
Barcelona are desperate for attacking reinforcements after selling Neymar to Paris St Germain for a world record 222 million euros earlier this month. They have also been in talks to buy Liverpool's Coutinho.