Dortmund's Ousmane Dembele joins Barcelona in $125 million deal
French striker Ousmane Dembele
Barcelona - French striker will replace Neymar in Barcelona
Published: Fri 25 Aug 2017, 7:15 PM
Last updated: Sat 26 Aug 2017, 1:07 PM
Ousmane Dembele brought an end to protracted transfer talks by signing a five-year deal with Barcelona worth 105 million euros ($125 million) plus add-ons, the Spanish giants announced on Friday.
Dembele signed from Borussia Dortmund, where he has been suspended since he boycotted training on August 10 in protest after the German club rejected Barca's first bid.
France international Dembele scored 10 goals and provided 21 assists in all competitions to help Dortmund finish third in the Bundesliga last season. The team also won the German Cup.
A statement from Barca said Dembele would arrive in Barcelona on Sunday and have his medical on Monday before signing the contract, which will contain a release clause of 400 million euros. He will also be officially unveiled on Monday at the club's Nou Camp stadium.
Barcelona are also targeting Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho as they look to replace star forward Neymar, who joined Paris St Germain for a world record fee of 222 million euros.
The high-profile move on a five-year deal means Dembele will fill the boots of his idol, Neymar, as Barcelona look to bolster their attack after the Brazilian's record move to Paris Saint-Germain.
Dembele joined Rennes' academy when he was 13 and having made his first team debut in November 2015, his silky skills combined with sudden bursts of pace and lethal crosses quickly dazzled defences.
Barely into his teenage years at the time, Dembele said his inspirations were Lionel Messi and Neymar - the former will be his new teammate and the latter is the man he is replacing.
"They're great players. I try to follow their games and copy what they do in training," said a youthful Dembele while still at Rennes.
The 2015/16 season saw Dembele make his breakthrough, scoring 12 times in 26 games for Rennes in the French league and setting up five goals.
In March 2016, he scored a hat-trick in the derby against Nantes in a 4-1 win just a couple months shy of his 18th birthday.
The French club's then sports director Mikael Silvestre compared Dembele to Cristiano Ronaldo.
"I saw Cristiano Ronaldo arrive at the same age at Manchester United and Ousmane has the same characteristics which remind me of young Cristiano," said Silvestre.
"A talent like Dembele doesn't come along every season. You are lucky if you have one every 10 years."
Dortmund beat off reported interest from Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich to sign Dembele.
The Frenchman announced his arrival with an audacious goal on Dortmund's tour of China, before the 2016/17 season, when the then 19-year-old made a mockery of the United defence to fire home in a 3-0 win.
Despite the trauma of the April bomb attack on the Dortmund team bus, Dembele kept his composure to score when the Champions League quarterfinal first leg was replayed a day later, resulting in a 3-2 defeat to Monaco.
Arguably his best and most important goal for Dortmund was his left-footed strike to seal a 3-2 victory at Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the German Cup.
In May's final in Berlin, he gave Dortmund an early lead before Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a second in a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt as Dembele claimed the only title of his career so far.
Dortmund were able to hang onto Aubameyang, who attracted a reported offer of 80m euros from China's Tianjin Quanjian after scoring 31 league goals last season to dethrone Robert Lewandowski as the Bundesliga's top scorer.
But despite having a contract until 2021, Borussia were effectively powerless to dampen Dembele's dreams once Barcelona came calling.