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Barcelona to open talks with revitalised Ousmane Dembele over new deal despite interest in Raphinha 

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Barcelona to open talks with revitalised Ousmane Dembele over new deal despite interest in Leeds winger Raphinha

Barcelona have contacted the agent of winger Ousmane Dembele to open discussions over a new contract, which could have consequences for their bid to sign Leeds winger Raphinha.

The France international, who is a free agent in the summer, looked set to leave in January after rejecting Barca’s contract proposals only to see a move to Paris St Germain fall through on deadline day. Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United also showed interest but held back from making an offer.

Dembele was initially criticised then ostracised from the Barca squad leaving the player and his entourage upset at the way the club handled the situation. However, the man management of coach Xavi helped pave the way for Dembele to be reintegrated into the first team group.

Barcelona have contacted the agent of Ousmane Dembele to open discussions over a new deal

Barcelona have contacted the agent of Ousmane Dembele to open discussions over a new deal

He quickly renewed a bond with friend and new signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and proceeded to step up his fitness work to impress coaching staff.

Xavi was sufficiently encouraged to recall him to the team and he is now showing some of his best form.

PSG and Chelsea have maintained contact but today’s move from Barcelona to call his agent Moussa Sissoko and invite him for fresh contract talks is the clearest indication yet that the Spanish side now want him to stay.

That is testimony to the rapport Dembele has struck up with the Barcelona coach who has restored the club’s faith in the 24-year old.

Team mates Pedri and Jordi Alba have also spoken out in support asking the club to make the winger a new offer.

Barca president Joan Laporta said today: ‘I really like Dembele, he’s amazing – we made him a proposal which expired on December 20, then if he wants to stay, he has to accept our salary limits.

‘We never know what happens with Dembele and his agent.’

However, despite Laporta’s hint of caveat, Sportsmail understands the fresh talks could now take place as early as this week.

Barcelona remain restricted by what finances they can spend and renewing Dembele’s contract could prove more beneficial than sourcing an expensive replacement.

Leeds United winger Raphinha is one of the players at the top of the club's wishlist

Leeds United winger Raphinha is one of the players at the top of the club’s wishlist

Leeds United’s Raphinha is top of their wishlist and Laporta has confirmed the 25-year old Brazilian is on the agenda and that talks have taken place with his agent Deco.

However, Leeds would want around £60million and there is no release clause in his contract should the club retain their Premier League status.

Laporta has also spoken of how they may have to offer Francisco Trincao as part of talks to make Adama Traore’s loan move into a permanent deal.

Barca have already agreed deals with free agents Andreas Christensen of Chelsea and AC Milan’s Franck Kessie but a new agreement with a revitalised and in-form Dembele could prove another coup.

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