Summer-long pursuit concluded as La Liga giants make forward the second most expensive player of all time
BARCELONA have confirmed the signing of French star Ousmane Dembele from Borussia Dortmund.
The 20-year-old forward will cost the Catalan club an initial £97million but the final figure could rise to a staggering £138m with add-ons.
Barcelona have inserted an eye-watering £369m release clause in Dembele’s five-year contract.
The La Liga club announced the deal on their website late on Friday afternoon, saying the player will arrive in Spain on Sunday.
He will undergo a medical on Monday and then be officially unveiled at the Nou Camp.
It is the first major signing Barca have made since selling Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain for a world-record £198m earlier this month.
It is understood the club’s scouting network identified Dembele as the best player to replace Neymar.
However, they continue to be strongly linked with Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho despite the Reds being adamant the Brazilian is not for sale.
Barca said Dembele is “one of the best young players in the world” and “stands out for his pace, ability to beat men and versatility”.
He can play on either wing and completed 103 successful dribbles in the Bundesliga last season – more than any other player.
The Frenchman also scored 10 goals in 49 matches and was third on list of players with the most assists in Europe, providing 20 in all competitions.
Dembele has been capped seven times by France and scored the winning goal in a 3-2 victory over England in Paris in June.
Dembele joined Dortmund for a reported £13m from Rennes in May 2016, but was not expected to reach great heights in his first season at the club.
However, his impressive performances made him one of the hottest young properties in Europe.
He has been desperate to move to Barcelona and even went AWOL from Dortmund two weeks ago.
That resulted in him being suspended by the German club and forced to train on his own.
And Nou Camp boss Ernesto Valverde was delighted to finally get his man.
He said: “He is a player who guarantees offensive depth, the depth that we have lost and that we need.
“He is a player who can play on both sides of attack, also in the middle, so that gives us a lot of possibilities.
“He is quick, skillful and we hope he will be able to bring a lot to the team. We are very excited about this player.
“We have got high hopes, we still need to get to know him on a personal level. It is going to be great to get to know him at the club.
“Last year at Dortmund you could already see he was a good player. Barcelona were also looking at him back then.
“Borussia Dortmund have been able to see in person just what a quality player he is and let’s hope he lives up to every expectation here and brings us lots of joy.”
Dembele’s move is the second-highest of all-time and demolished Barca’s previous transfer record – the £78m they splashed on Neymar in 2013.
The Brazilian has since moved to PSG in an incredible £198m deal earlier this summer.
And Valverde revealed the Catalan club were willing to stump up the inflated fee after the events of this transfer window.
He added: “Yeah, well we know what the transfer market is like at the moment.
“The last few days things have just been exploding. It seems all clubs are going to be signing the most expensive players in their history because the prices are flying up and it may well be based on the buyout clause of Neymar.
“But when players go onto the pitch I don’t think they worry about who has cost more, who has cost less. We are just excited about this new player arriving.”