Barcelona director: Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele deals tough
Barcelona sporting director Robert Fernandez has acknowledged the club are in a "very difficult situation" as they look to secure deals for Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele.
Barca's general manager, Pep Segura, said after Wednesday's Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid that they were "close" to securing deals for the duo, but Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said on Thursday there was "nothing new" on Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said the La Liga side have "not come a millimetre closer" to agreeing a deal for Dembele.
Robert, speaking as the club unveiled Paulinho, then said that it would be tough to bring in elite signings as they seek to rebuild after the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain.
Asked about Coutinho and Dembele, Robert said: "Not just Barca but any team looking for top quality players are getting involved in a very difficult situation in this market.
"Why? Because the market is where clubs like us want to sign top quality players. There's no buyout clauses, so that makes things trickier. Yes, we are negotiating with clubs to make several signings, but in all awareness of the difficulty.
"We need to work our way into a favourable situation and hopefully close these deals as quickly as possible."
Robert said 20-year-old Dembele, who joined Dortmund from Rennes last year, and 25-year-old Coutinho, who has been at Liverpool since 2013, had been on Barca's radar for some time.
"Dembele and Coutinho are two important players that we like a lot and have done for a long time," he said. "They have the conditions, the right age and could adapt to our football. They would be good to have here. That's the reality.
"With respect to Liverpool and Dortmund, when there are negotiations you need time, you need to work things into a favourable situation for players and ourselves.
"We still have days ahead of us, would like to move things faster, but do admit they're two players we would like here. But it's the clubs who will have the final say on if we finally achieve those two transfers."
He also confirmed that Barcelona are eager to offload some of their fringe players.
"We are working on the possibility of players that could leave," he said. "The players that didn't have numbers on their shirts is because we haven't resolved their situations entirely. No doubts some players are leaving, but also others will be coming in."
Dortmund boss Peter Bosz told his news conference on Thursday afternoon that he was unsure whether Dembele -- who remains suspended by the Bundesliga club -- has a future at the Westfalenstadion.
"You can't completely block it out," Bosz said ahead of Dortmund's Bundesliga opener at Wolfsburg when asked if the matter was on his mind.
"He's not here currently. I don't know how it will pan out -- we'll need to be patient for a few more days.
"It was an issue in the dressing room, but we now focus on the Wolfsburg match."
Asked about a potential return, Bosz said: "It might become an issue, and that's why I don't want to comment on it at this stage. We'd need to see what would happen."
Dortmund defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos criticised Dembele in Thursday's edition of kicker magazine, saying he "can't just do whatever he wants," and Bosz said: "Papa [Sokratis] made a good statement.
"But we'd need to discuss it internally, and we are not thinking about it right now."
ESPN FC's Germany correspondent, Stephan Uersfeld, contributed to this report.
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