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Barcelona fear that Ousmane Dembele is preparing to leave the Camp Nou on a free transfer with Arsenal keeping tabs on the World Cup-winning contract rebel, as reported by Sport.

Oh the irony.

When a cash-strapped Barca were hawking their injury-prone £96 million man to suitors all over Europe during the summer, Dembele opted to stay and fight for his place at the palace of the Catalan Kings.

Just as Dembele is showing signs of overcoming the problems that have stalked his difficult La Liga career, Sport claims that the former Dortmund sensation has suddenly decided that his future might not lie at Barcelona after all.

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Arsenal and Manchester United are reportedly interested in the two-footed menace.

Dembele’s contract expires in 2022 and, as the report claims, he has little interest in signing a renewal at present.

That leaves Barcelona’s hands tied.

By next summer, they will have little choice but to start listening to vastly reduced offers for the sixth-most expensive footballer in football history.

There are very real fears at the Camp Nou that Dembele could leave, if not for absolutely nothing, then for a fee far lower than his market value.

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And if that does happen, then coach Ronald Koeman will have to shoulder at least some of the blame.

Despite some improved performances and a couple of brilliant goals, including one in Saturday’s 5-2 thumping of Real Betis, Dembele has been handed just three La Liga starts, and one in the Champions League, since Koeman took over from Quique Setien.

“If you have to ask me for a player that reminds me of the way I played, I’ll say I really like (Ousmane) Dembele. He has enormous potential,” Barcelona legend Luis Figo told Marca this week.

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