Xavi Hernandez opted not to include Ousmane Dembélé on the bench for Barcelona’s last pre-season friendly in the United States against AC Milan.
The decision was taken amid the impending departure of the Frenchman who is set to join Paris Saint-Germain.
The Barcelona boss was asked about Dembélé leaving after Tuesday’s match.
“I am a little disappointed,” Xavi said. “He has told us he wants to go to PSG. We tried to keep him but there is nothing we can do. He told me he has already spoken with [PSG manager] Luis Enrique and [PSG president Nasser] Al-Khelaifi.
“There was no way to convince him, this is the final decision and it is his personal decision. PSG have made an offer that is completely out of the market. We cannot compete with it.”
It is not difficult to see why Xavi would be disappointed in Dembélé and his decision to leave. After all, it was Xavi who stood by Dembélé only a season ago when the Frenchman was being left out of the team altogether after refusing to sign an extension.
It was Xavi who convinced the powers that be that the team needed a player like Dembélé and eventually the World Cup champion was brought back in the fold.
Xavi’s belief in Dembélé never wavered despite his inconsistencies on the pitch and his numerous spells on the sidelines due to injury.
In essence, Xavi put his entire trust and faith behind Dembélé and is now seeing the player leave. It wouldn’t be surprising if he saw it as a betrayal.
“It’s a shame, we had taken great care of him to ensure he was happy here,” Xavi said. “I knew all about the clause. [Mateu] Alemany and I have been together day and night and we knew there was a chance he would go. But he seemed happy to me. I didn’t expect it, but it has happened.”
With Dembélé’s departure, Raphinha is expected to be the starter on the right wing.
While Barcelona would like to find a replacement, they are constrained financially and may have to make do with what they already have. An alternative could be finding a suitable right-back which could solve two problems at once.
The fee Barcelona would get from PSG for Dembélé is still uncertain. At the moment, it looks like they may go to a legal dispute as the Catalan side could dispute the amount, if any, that would go to Dembélé and his agent as they believe there are certain conditions that weren’t met.