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The many layers of mystery over Dembele’s new contract at Barcelona

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Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images

Christmas has come early for Barcelona fans this year as they have had the opportunity to revel in the signing of top-quality players in the space of two weeks.

Barcelona started the month announcing the deals for Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen, before eventually bringing in Leeds United winger Raphinha. They struck their fourth blow this afternoon, confirming the contract extension of Ousmane Dembele.

The Frenchman has agreed a two-year deal in Catalonia, which will essentially guarantee his future until 2024. Although Barcelona have not released his salary, there is a wide consensus among various Spanish media outlets that the attacker has agreed to take up a 40% pay cut.

While there is much joy around the Barça camp over the prospect of seeing Dembele and Raphinha forming an offensive combination next season, the Frenchman’s contract extension is a rather shocking revelation for anyone who has been following the saga for over the past six months.

And quite unsurprisingly, the figures over Dembele’s actual salary at Barça have become a subject of discussion among reputed journalists in Spain and France.

French journalist Santi Aouna has recently revealed that Dembele is expected to earn up to €11 million net salary, which is almost double the reported figure of €6 million.

Aouna’s report has been refuted by Spanish journalist Edu Polo. Reacting to the claim, Polo tweeted: “In France, Moussa Sissoko leaked that Dembélé would earn almost double of what he will actually earn. He is trying to cover his great ridicule.”

Santi Aouna was quick to respond to Edu Polo and replied to one of his own reports pertaining to the 40% salary reduction. It brought a retort from Edu Polo, who hit back at the Foot Mercato journalist over his claims, as can be seen below.

The argument between Santi Aouna and Edu Polo serves as an indicator of the contrasting reports coming out on Spain and French, over the facts and figures of the Dembele deal. It has caused a wide range of confusion among Barcelona fans as well.

After all, it is perhaps fair to lay out that not many fans saw the contract extension of Dembele coming.

Earlier in the summer, it was widely reported that the attacker is not even thinking about Barcelona’s proposal, as the Catalans’ final offer was far too low for his liking. He was favouring a move elsewhere, especially amid interest from Chelsea and PSG.

But the equation changed after Chelsea started to prioritise a move for Raheem Sterling while PSG abandoned their pursuit after appointing Luis Campos as the new sporting director.

And while there are no doubts Dembele was keen on playing under Xavi, something about the contract extension, or at least reports pertaining to his salary cut, just do not add up.

Many believe the lack of suitors willing to meet Dembele’s lucrative wage demands played a key role in forcing the attacker to miraculously take up a significant pay cut.

But we are still in the early stages of the summer transfer window and the attacker would have had at least a month and a half to wait around for better offers.

At the same time, Laporta does have a healthy record of avoiding economic risks, especially in the midst of a crisis. To that end, paying €11 million per season to Dembele just doesn’t add up, especially under Barcelona’s new wage structure.

This adds another layer of mystery to the Dembele saga, which is set to continue for quite some time even after the attacker’s extension, with some reports suggesting that the two parties are set to re-negotiate after a year, presumably over handing Dembele an upgraded deal.

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