Ousmane Dembele says he will ‘not be blackmailed’ by FC Barcelona in an open letter.
The contract renewal war between Barcelona and France international Ousmane Dembele has escalated with the winger declaring in an open letter that he will not blackmailed by the La Liga giants.
Barcelona’s Director of Football Mateu Alemany earlier on Thursday said the player should leave the club ‘immediately’ after he refused to ink a new contract extension offered to him.
Thereafter, Dembele was slashed off of Barca’s Thursday Copa del Rey Last-16 tie against Athletic Bilbao.
But Dembele in an open letter said: “For four years now, gossip has been piling up about me and I have been shamefully lied about with the soul purpose of damaging me. Was that a mistake? I’m sure it was.
“From today I will answer honestly, without giving in to any kind of blackmail. I am 24 years old and like every man, I have flaws and imperfections. I have lived through difficult times with injuries; I have been affected by Covid.
“Without many training sessions I have always been available without complaint when the coach has asked me. I have always done my job as well as I can because it is my passion.
The Frenchman responded angrily to the talk that he was not comitted to Barca because of six months remaining on his contract at Nou Camp.
“I forbid anyone to think that I am not involved in the sporting project’, he added. ‘I forbid anyone to attribute to me intentions that I have never had. I forbid anyone to speak for me or for my agent, in whom I have total confidence.
“I am still under contract, I am fully involved and at the disposal of my club and my coach. I have always given my all for my team-mates. I am not a man who is in the habit of giving in to blackmail.”
Earlier on Thursday, the players union AFE backed Dembele and warned Barcelona in prior over freezing out the player because he will not sign a new deal at Nou Camp.
AFE issued a stunning statement: “It’s true that a professional footballer has no [automatic] right to be picked to be in the squad for all games but he does have a right to be treated the same as his team-mates.
“If the situation [being left out] can be understood as a pressure on him [to sign a new deal, or leave] and in addition there are public statements acknowledging this type of pressure, we would be dealing with an illegal action on the part of the club.”
“AFE considers that a failure to reach an agreement to renew an employment contract does not constitute a breach of employment.” the statement added.
Dembele and Barcelona signed a contract until June 2022 and the 2018 World Cup winner does not have to extend his deal before then.
The 24-year-old winger is closely monitored by top European clubs including, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.