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Xavi lauds Dembele as an ‘example’ and hopes winger decides to stay at Barcelona

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Xavi has reiterated his admiration for Ousmane Dembele’s professionalism as the Barcelona boss confirmed negotiations over a new contract for the winger were under way.

Dembele was told publicly to leave Barca by the club during the January transfer window, after contract talks broke down.

The France international’s current deal runs out at the end of the season, meaning he will be able to leave Camp Nou on a free transfer.

However, with no move having materialised before the end of January, Dembele has been reintegrated into Xavi’s squad and seems to have rediscovered his form.

Dembele has started Barca’s last four LaLiga matches, providing five assists across those appearances.

The 24-year-old also scored and teed up two other goals as a substitute in a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the end of February.

On Tuesday, with Barca’s squad given a day off ahead of travelling to Germany for the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final against Eintracht Frankfurt, Dembele was spotted going to the club’s training ground, with reports stating that he did extra physical work.

“He’s an example in the way he trains, the way he plays, his attitude and commitment,” Xavi told a news conference when asked about Dembele. 

“I don’t know how he was before but I’ve got no complaints. I see a very happy, very motivated player and with his winning attitude.

“He’s happy and comfortable here and so that’s not a surprise that he trained on his day off. He’s a great professional, I said that when he wasn’t playing as well.”

Dembele created seven chances in Barca’s win over Sevilla on Sunday, also providing the pass for Pedri’s goal in a 1-0 victory.

Earlier this week, Barca executive Mateu Alemany reportedly met with Dembele’s agent to restart negotiations over a new deal, and this speculation was confirmed by Xavi.

“It is a negotiation. We are also in talks with Ronald [Araujo], Gavi, Sergi Roberto, it is a process,” he said.

“The club knows my priorities and we are working. Hopefully Dembele can stay, with work he can be the best in his position.

“The club is working hard and I hope they decide to stay. Gavi, Araujo, Dembele… if we can have them next year we’ll be a better team and squad.”

Xavi was equally as effusive in his praise for Araujo, who he revealed has agreed to fresh terms.

“For us he is a guarantee and Barcelona have a central defender for ten years or more,” Xavi said.

“There are few central defenders in the world like him. He has been the key in the negotiation. He is very humble, direct, he is a luxury.

“I am delighted. As a person he is a hard worker. Barcelona fans can be proud that he has decided to stay at Barcelona.”